Teacher creates production line in classroom

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
Rockville High School manufacturing technology teacher Rober Frost works on a machine at his externship at Phoenix Manufacturing. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

This summer Robert Frost spent four weeks receiving first-hand knowledge of current manufacturing operations at Phoenix Manufacturing in Enfield. Now the manufacturing technology teacher from Rockville High School, will incorporate the information he has acquired into the classroom by creating his own production line.

When he began his 160 hours of work, Frost shadowed four departments – CNC lathe, CNC mill, manual and expectations. Eventually, he became apart of the manual department where he made a project using milling and layering techniques. “I can make more detailed projects with my kids now,” said Frost.

This year, Frost is going to recreate his externship in his own classroom. The students will be required to collectively work together to create mini cannons. Each class period will be dedicated to learning an operation collectively rather than working individually on making the parts and assembling. For example, one day students may work on multiple parts that share one operation. Frost said each part has several operations.

Once all the operations have been completed and all the parts are finished, the class will work together to assemble each of the mini cannons. Frost said in total there are 18 parts to a cannon.

“Every day I learned something new, whether it was speeds and feeds of the cutters or how to rotate different work on a jig,” said Frost, who also participated in an externship in 2010. He said the two were different, but both were positive experiences and he will likely complete another. “I am able to teach more, and I am able to teach the right way,” said Frost.

The externship, which he and nine other Connecticut educators participated in, was part of the Connecticut Colleges' College of Technology's Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing. The program was administered by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) to increase knowledge of the industry.

The experience is similar to an internship, but instead provides professionals with knowledge to enhance their credentials. In this case, educators like Frost are using the techniques and skills they have learned to incorporate them in the classrooms. This will allow students to learn manufacturing practices and machine operating from teachers and professors with first-hand experience. 

A variety of companies participated in the program, including Pratt and Whitney, Sound Manufacturing, Whelen Engineering, Edward Segal, Inc., Graham Tool and Machine, CNC Software, Spirol International, Okay Industries and Stanadyne Corporation.

Among the participating educators were Andrew Angle from Watkinson School, Stephen Born Hoeft from Montville High School, Larry Chapman from Old Saybrook High School, Frank Lakomski from Oliver Wolcott Technical High School, Lin Lin from Middlesex Community College, Chris Petersen from Bacon Academy, Jacob Spjut from Quinebaug Community College, Greg Szpanski from Tunxis Community College and Jared Welcome from Lewis Mills High School.

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