WHY STUDENTS ARE ESSENTIAL TO PUSH LIMITS
Ronny Blaauwgeers - Director Manufacturing Engineering
Although the aerospace industry is a fairly traditional industry due to high quality standards, in recent years Aeronamic has made big steps towards digitalization. It’s part of our desire to push limits and move forward, including in Aeronamic’s Digital Factory. We connect up the people we need, mixing young talent with senior professionals. Talking about the digital transition means talking about the next generation: students. Daan Theoden is one of the young talents who completed a graduation assignment at Aeronamic. The fact that he is now part of our Manufacturing Engineering Team proves that his internship was more than successful.
We always have projects which make good use of the fresh perspective and digital knowledge of students. It’s about finding the right match, so that both parties get the best out of it. When Daan applied earlier this year, he was looking for a suitable assignment. As a student of Industrial Design Engineering, he was given a design assignment to improve the production process: Design a turbine wheel mounting mechanism to prevent manufacturing defects and improve ergonomics in a cost-effective manner. The former method was done by hand, but – as you can imagine – it was pretty heavy and damage sensitive. It was up to Daan to include these aspects in the design and to develop a prototype mechanism which looked good and was, above all, easy to use.
From concept to prototype
Daan came well prepared, mastering Aeronamic’s 3D CAD system via Youtube self-learning videos. It shows the personal drive we need at Aeronamic in pushing limits. Of course, Daan had to get to know our company. He told me: “Generally speaking, the work at Aeronamic is more technical than the assignments I had to carry out during my studies.” Despite that, he was immediately able to apply skills like 3D designing and usability-driven thinking. He consulted many of our colleagues, especially operators who would actually be using the tool. When designing the device, he also had to take various aspects into account, such as materials, manufacturability, involved loads, durability, and so on. Daan came up with concept designs and eventually realized a prototype which, after improvements, our operators now actually use in our factory for production. Excellent!
Form and functionality
At first, we didn’t expect a prototype to be so good that the operators could actually use it. I believe functionality is very important, so for me this is what made Daan’s design exceptional. Many young designers make sure a product looks nice, but they forget about functionality. Daan’s mounting mechanism has both. This tool enables our operators to run at a higher productivity while doing less heavy work (achieve more by doing less!). And it just looks great! Daan said that this is also thanks to Aeronamic’s support. Which, of course, is great to hear. We believe it’s important to provide students with the resources they need to carry out their assignments. This ensures that we get the most out of it. It’s how we get a prototype as close to realization as possible.
The successful assignment not only ensured Daan’s graduation. It also got him a job as Manufacturing Technician at Aeronamic. In his new role, he is creating multimedia assembly instructions and embedding them in our database systems. Another step towards our Digital Factory. We have many colleagues like Daan who found their way to Aeronamic through an internship. Young talent brings digital knowledge. Combining programming skills and technical insight, they are valuable additions to our industry. We believe in combining young talent with senior professionals. 1+1 makes 3. Or as we like to say: together we push limits!