Luke Gregory of Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia demonstrates the heat transfer properties of a copper tube to 13 Advanced Placement calculus and computer science students from Inter-Lakes High School, who visited the plant yesterday for Manufacturing Week. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — "This is really not what I expected," said Matthew Dufffield, one of a baker's dozen of students from Inter-Lakes High School who visited the headquarters of Aavid Thermalloy, LLC on Wednesday during Manfacturing Week. Duffield said that the openness, orderliness and cleanliness of the facility came as a surprise.
During Manufacturing Week 70 firms across the state — nearly a dozen in the Lakes Region — open their doors to students to introduce them to the opportunities of pursuing careers in manufacturing and engineering , where both the demand and rewards for employees are high. The first step, reflected by Duffield's reaction, is to dispel the image of manufacturing as repetitive, rote work requiring limited knowledge and skill and undertaken in unpleasant settings.
The students, all but one members of the advanced placement calculus and computer science classes taught by Jennifer Thomas, split their morning between Aavid Thermalloy and its neighbor in the O'Shea Industrial Park, New Hampshire Ball Bearing. Founded in Laconia in 1964, Aavid Thermalloy designs and manufactures thermal management products of metals, which are applied in a wide variety of setting where heat is generated, including telecommunications networks, data centers and consumer electronics as well as a variety of industries.
At Aavid all seemed intrigued by their introduction to advanced manufacturing. They regularly questioned their hosts, Dave Lacroix, production control manager, and Norm Laramie, manufacturing manager, and were especially intrigued by Luke Gregory, a design engineer who fashions and tests products to meet the particular, often challenging, specifications of customers, among them dispelling the heat generated by stadium lighting.
"I appreciate opportunities like this," said Joshua Schmalie, who stayed behind to question Gregory after he demonstrated the properties of a simple copper rod that transferred heat from a beaker of water. The son of computer programmer, Schmalie said he enjoyed both engineering and computer science and intended to apprentice with his father before enrolling in college, where he would choose between the two. He said while he would not expect to work on the shop floor, he would enjoy designing and engineering products.
For Tyler Reid the visit was something of a revelation as he was not aware of the high-tech advanced manufacturing enterprises serving global markets in the region. Fascinated by flying, he wants to become an aeronautical engineer, but to spend time in the air before turning to design, particularly the secrets of flight itself.
The one student not enrolled in the advanced placement classes, sophomore Noah Bell Fontaine, was perhaps the most enthusiastic of all. Noting that his grandfather worked at New Hampshire Ball Bearing, he said "I like to work with metal. Anything to do with metal." He said he worked in the shop at school, but enjoyed coming to Aavid Thermalloy "to get an idea of what I would like to do."
There were two young women in the class, both of whom intended to study engineering Catherine Robert said that while her preference is electrical engineering, she found the visit an opportunity see firsthand how theoretical knowledge is transformed into practical applications. Brianna Knauss, the daughter of a machinist who operates what she called his own "one man shop," was no stranger to the shop floor and also expects to become an engineer.
Last year, nearly two-thirds of the 1,600 students visiting manufacturing facilities during the week reported they were "only somewhat informed, if at all" of advanced manufacturing. Following their visits, 61 percent said they would be more likely to consider in the manufacturing sector.
Thomas said that her students are an especially accomplished group, most of whom have begun to plot their future after graduation. She said that Manufacturing Week has presented them with an opportunity to get a close look at where they could find themselves in the years to come.
Dave Lacroix, production control manager at Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia, displays a component machined to a fine tolerance in their shop to students from Inter-Lakes High School. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
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