By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – The Big M conference showcases the latest in manufacturing technology and gives students who may one day have a career in the field an opportunity to showcase what they have learned in the classroom.

The three-day conference, hosted by SME at Cobo Center, hosted a series of competitions for students and the opportunity to meet with industry professionals to learn about the field.

Just off the main exhibit floor, students were designing wind turbines on computers which were then printed out on 3D printers.

Students would then test their creations to see which created the most energy, and tweaked their design as needed to increase production.

“What’s cool about it is that it may seem simple here, but once you put it in practice in the field we get to learn a whole lot of things that help us with future jobs and get us into the industry,” said Chris Gibbons, a student at Oakland Schools Technical Campus.

There was also a build workshop where teams worked in a series of sprints to take raw materials and components to build a hyper-efficient car using agile manufacturing techniques.

As professionals watched, the students built the car from the ground up, started the engine and drove it across the floor. These techniques are utilized by industry today, according to Joe Justice, of Scrum Inc., who helped lead the build.

“This is what the most competitive, fastest moving companies are doing now in manufacturing, design and sustainment,” Justice said.

While some students built a vehicle to go on the road, others created underwater remotely operated vehicles. Using simple items such as PVC pipes, motors and waterproof cameras, students built the remote control submarines to retrieve as many rings in a small pool as possible.

This competition was inspirational to future engineers.

“Being on the robotics program, and actually building an underwater ROV that works, is actually a great experience for me and I’m having fun while we are doing it,” said Desmond Barber, a student at Oak Park High School.

The final day of the conference is June 4.


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