For over 7 years, Whirltronics has worked with the engineering students at St. Cloud State University through an annual Senior Project. We work side-by-side with the students to design and build a piece of machinery that is utilized at the Whirltronics’ facility as part of our lawn mower blade manufacturing process.

The Project

The project for this year was to develop a machine to perform a rotary blade ductility test. Whirltronics uses this test because it is required for heat treated blades, where the application involves rotation at high RPM’s. Our Mechanical Engineer and 3-time Six Sigma Project Manager Matt Severson explains some of the details for the project, “Part of the design process was to make sure the spec, and requirements contained within it, were met.  This played a part in nearly all of the machine elements including the tooling design and bending method used.  The design, assembly and testing of the machine was completed by the students which presented some hands-on troubleshooting opportunities.”

Luke Belich was one of the students involved in the project. He is finishing his college career with a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, and plans to work for Dematic, designing automated conveyor systems. He enjoyed the design process and the development of the hydraulic system for the press in the Senior Project. He also learned a lot about project scopes and working with a timeline, “I have learned that ordering long lead time product can take more time than expected, and that you should allow yourself enough time to make changes throughout the design/ordering process.  I have also learned that detailed/constant communication is extremely important to ensure that the project will be completed on time and correctly.”

The Reward

Completing the project with success is one thing, but the process and experience that it took to get there is really what this program is about. At Whirltronics, we want to educate students on the entire process of metal manufacturing. We want the students to experience some of the things they learned in the classroom, out on the shop floor. Matt hopes all students can take something away from the hands-on experience, “I hope at project’s end the students have an understanding of what it means to apply the skills and theories they learned to real-world applications.  This includes encountering unexpected issues that arise throughout the project and learning how to deal with those issues while considering their impact on project budget and timeline.  Those elements of a project can be incredibly difficult to teach in a classroom but will play a large role in whatever projects they work on.”

At Whirltronics, we enjoy working with the students on these projects and showing them how to utilize Lean manufacturing and strong communication within a team. It allows us, as a company, to evaluate how we perform and if there are ways Whirltronics can improve our own processes and communication with our clients. This experience also allows us to be out and educating the community on metal manufacturing, something Matt enjoys the most, “Whether it be through sponsoring local robotics teams, giving tours to high school classes or partnering with engineering students for their senior project. Whirltronics encourages an interest in the manufacturing process including the knowledge and work that goes into creating a product. Working with the students on their project gives both Whirltronics and the students a new perspective. The students get to apply the knowledge and skills they learned in their classes to a real-world application complete with the practical limitations that exist and influence design.”

Ready to tackle your next project? Contact Whirltronics and we can help you along the way: 763-682-1716 or online at For more blog posts and current company information, follow us on LinkedIn.

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