The creative world of engineering came to life for Transition Year students from St Joseph’s Secondary School, Tulla, Co Clare and Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh during a visit to medical device manufacturer Smithstown Light Engineering, Shannon this week as part of STEPS Engineers Week.
The students got to experience first hand how state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing technologies and materials are enabling high-end products for life-saving medical applications when they visited the company as part of a 3-month 3D printing programme. They also enjoyed a hands-on learning experience where they got to work with components they designed in the classroom.
The first stage of the programme started months in advance when Engineers from Smithstown Light Engineering visited the schools to deliver a series of presentations on 3D printing and how it’s providing endless solutions to so many different challenges. Teams were then selected to design their own personalised component for printing on Smithstown’s polymer printer.
After receiving feedback and modifying their designs, students visited Smithstown Light Engineering to see the 3D printing process from start to finish, from sketches and CAD models to file preparation and printing the final product.
Kevin Kelly, Smithstown Light Engineering and co-ordinator of the programme, said “The aim of the programme is to provide an engaging hands-on learning experience that will encourage students to stay curious about the opportunities in engineering. Students gain an appreciation of the skillset required in conceptualize, customize and prototype a design without going through complex engineering concepts. They really enjoy seeing the journey of their designs, from concept to finished product.”
Gerard Henn, CEO, Smithtown Light Engineering, said “The schools 3D printing programme is very important to us as Smithstown Light Engineering. The role of an engineer can be so diverse and dynamic. We hope that this early experience will capture the imagination of the students. Through the programme they are simultaneously getting an appreciation of engineering principles as well as a taste of the exciting challenges that a career in engineering could offer.”
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh, said “Ba deis iontach a bhí ann do na scoláirí i GCL seans a fháil usáid a bhaint as Teicneolaíocht go proifeisúnta i Smithstown Engineerng. Thaitin an lá go mór leo agus is cinnte go dtacaíonn sé lena n-eispéarais a bheith ina n-innealltóirí amach anseo.”
Colm Killeen, St Joseph’s Secondary School, Tulla, said “The opportunity to design and create their own 3D component was very exciting for the students. It was a wonderful experience that will no doubt stay with them. Many thanks to Smithstown Light Engineering for giving the students access to these technologies and giving them a sense of how engineers can make such an impact in the real world.”