“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Every year Kenco and Kenco Innovation Lab attends the Chattanooga Spirit of Innovation. For the past eleven years, Kenco’s own Matt McLelland – Innovation Research Manager with Kenco Innovation Labs has been a judge for the Spirit of Innovation. To say this event is near and dear to our heart is putting it mildly. This year we networked with many individuals and companies in the area. One group that stood out and are very ambitious was the STEM School of Chattanooga. Their teacher Ken Kranz, the FabLab teacher & Robotics Team coach, wanted to present Kenco Innovation Lab with an opportunity to sponsor one of their spring projects for 2017.
The FabLab (or fabrication laboratory) provides STEM students with the resources to fully design, prototype, and test products for their projects. The FabLab provides widespread access to modern means for invention. They began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) and evolved into a collaborative and global network. The STEM School FabLab is the first high school-based FabLab in the southeastern US. *from the STEM School FabLab website.
We are thrilled to partner with such an ambitious group of bright young people. We wanted to have the FabLab solve a real-world problem and come up with an applicable solution. Kenco Innovation Lab presents an Idea Challenge to our employees every quarter and the winning entry for Q4 in 2016 was the need to show the duration of a trailer at a doc door. Kenco Innovation Lab presented the FabLab with a need for a loading dock status tracker, and they gladly took on the challenge.
After our first meeting with the students, we were really impressed. They asked great questions beyond the obvious, and one of the students already had a parts list before the meeting ended. Some of them started brainstorming beyond the physical tracker mechanism. They are kicking around the idea of building an app that could integrate with YMS systems, writing code, and fabricating electronics for the project.
In addition to gaining STEM knowledge, they are also looking for the public business leaders (PBLs) to share advice on their soft skills (presentation style, adaptability, problem-solving, critical observation, and conflict resolution).
The project duration is six weeks long, and the FabLab students get to check in at the halfway point with Kenco Innovation Lab to ask questions and see if they are on target with the original goal. The students will present their final project to Kenco Innovation Lab on March 16th.
Kenco Innovation Lab is beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to work with students in our community and collaborate on a project. We think both the FabLab and Kenco Innovation Lab will benefit from this project.
Stay tuned as we will be posting another blog after we have our half-way check-in meeting!