FirstBuild Recognizes their Engineering Student Workers on STEM Day and They Share Advice for the Next Generation of Student Engineers.
National STEM Day is November 8th and is a day for inspiring students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. November 8th was chosen as a play on words to remind young students to innovate (NOV8). It is more important than ever to motivate youth to pursue these core subjects in the United States so we don’t fall behind competing nations in mathematics and scientific developments.
FirstBuild is a place where engineers and students can come together to bring ideas to life. We seek to create a community of open engagement where we test and develop new products and technologies that will shape the future of home appliances. Through a community approach, we are changing the way that products come to market.
FirstBuild is backed by GE Appliances, and our engineers, designers and students have access to state of the art equipment and facilities. FirstBuild has a student program that is designed to give engineering students the opportunity to get hands on experience in an assembly and manufacturing environment. In honor of STEM Day, we want to feature some of our student workers at FirstBuild.
Kevin Compton, 23, is a senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville. He first became interested in engineering in the summer before he started high school. Compton attended an event at the school that explained opportunities to get involved. He joined a series of classes called, “Project Lead the Way” involving architecture and drafting. He gained his first experience with machining, woodworking, welding, metal working and modeling using 3D software. Compton built battlebots to compete in robotics warfare.
In college, Compton became co-captain and recovery lead for the University of Louisville Rocket Team. This is how he found out about FirstBuild. The rocket team used the facility to manufacture parts. Last year, his team won the NASA Student Launch Competition, which he credits to having access to the technology and machines available at FirstBuild.
Compton is a student worker at FirstBuild. He helps community members in our Makerspace and assembles products in our Microfactory. He builds single/double ovens and pizza ovens and troubleshoots Opal Nugget Ice Makers. Compton hopes to work in the aerospace industry. He says his experience at FirstBuild has helped him to gain manufacturing knowledge that helped him understand how to make designs more efficient.
Compton would like to encourage the next generation of students to get as involved as you can. He expressed the importance of learning how things are made and assembled. If you seek opportunities to get hands on experience with teams or companies, then you will be better prepared for the world of engineering.
Brandon Pierce, 23, is finishing up his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville and will soon be pursuing a Ph.D. in the field. He grew up assisting his dad with projects, such as working on cars, pools, decks, electrical wiring, and even built a large garage. In kindergarten, Pierce watched his dad fix a toilet and then asked his teacher if he could draw on the chalkboard to teach his class how a toilet works. He always excelled at math and enjoyed building things.
Pierce was introduced to FirstBuild through the Capstone Design Program at the University of Louisville. He is now a student worker who does everything from working the front desk to giving tours of our facility and helping people use our equipment. He machines parts for our pizza ovens and even writes his own programs for the CNC mill.
Pierce aspires to own his own engineering company. He is inspired to create a variety of products such as control systems for quadcopter drones and performance customizations for off-road vehicles. He says that his experience at FirstBuild has helped him learn how to communicate his ideas more effectively.
To the next generation of student engineers, Pierce says to not let fear get in the way of your dreams. He says it’s a lot of work spending more time at school than average students, but it will all be worth it. If you put in the work now, it will pay off.
Travis Wickizer, 22, is working on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville. He became interested in engineering at a young age. As a kid, he built a big rig (semi-truck) with a K’nex set. He grew up in rural Central Kentucky working on tractors and four-wheelers. Wickizer thrived in math classes.
Wickizer helps build appliances at FirstBuild as a student worker. He operates the press brake to bend metal for the pizza oven assembly. He is involved in the final testing and wiring of products. FirstBuild has given him direct experience in the manufacturing process, which supports his career goals in manufacturing. He has seen products developed from their infancy to their launch to the public as consumer goods.
Wickizer recommends that future engineering students get hands on experience as early as possible. He says the best way to learn is to design a product and then use your hands to build it to see if it actually works.