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Kryton and CAPS come together to create a divided solution for schools

Date: 
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Cedar Falls manufacturer partnered with high school professionals to design and manufacture needed table dividers for Cedar Falls elementary schools

The COVID19 pandemic has made schools innovate new ways for students to be safe when they returned to school this fall.  Earlier this summer Cedar Falls School District STEM Coordinator Kenton Swartley committed to having the school’s robotics team that he leads, design and manufacture 46 polycarbonate divider panels for elementary school classrooms. In late August an additional 200 pieces were ordered to be delivered by the end of August.

The substantial increase created a challenge for the group to meet that deadline and needed help to meet that demand. The original design for the base supports for the dividers was being fabricated using 3-D printers with plastic filament would take nine days to complete.  When the volume quadrupled the project then was handed to the CF CAPS Robotics & Engineering (R&E) team to meet the four-day deadline.

CF CAPS R&E, a profession-based learning program that focuses on the development of skills and interest in STEM careers, discovered that it would take approximately 2-3 weeks to meet the August 31 deadline using the additive manufacturing method. The team knew that timeframe did not fit what the school district was needing.  CAPS Associates Savoy Hiesterman and Brody Bruns approached Kevin Harberts, President/ CEO of Kryton Engineered Metals, on how his company could partner with CAPS on the project to support the local elementary schools. Kryton Engineered Metals is the host site for CAPS R&E at their facility in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park.

“For our production team to get these on the line to meet their short deadline was a challenge as it meant interrupting the work we are doing for our customers,”  said Harberts. “That was a real-life aspect of manufacturing that was great to teach these associates about that they hadn’t necessarily thought about”.

Harberts connected the student-associates with one of Kryton’s engineers Zach Berg to assist in moving the project forward. Berg worked with the CAPS team to redesign the part using aluminum and fabricated using the company’s laser cutter and metal brake to bend the aluminum to fit the new design for the dividers. Kryton was able to produce 420 finished pieces the next day, while the CAPS team focused on finishing the polycarbonate sheets.

“This was an amazing project for our associates to take on, especially during the first week of school,” said CAPS Director Ethan Wiechmann. “Kryton has been such an amazing partner of CAPS since we began in 2017. Without continued outreach to the community through CAPS, the relationship and understanding of what high school students can accomplish would not have been at the level needed with Kryton’s team to move such a project forward so quickly. Due to the commitment by our associates and partners like Kevin and Kryton, they were able to provide the materials needed for safer interactions for our elementary students in Cedar Falls.”

With the demand that Harberts and his team saw through the development of the dividers, they have challenged the CAPS associates to develop a business concept that could help the company serve a larger market beyond Cedar Falls to provide this type of in-demand product during the pandemic.

“I really cannot say enough good things about Kenton and CAPS,” said Harberts. “They were awesome to work with and hopefully a few of them are more excited about careers in manufacturing than when they started the program a couple of weeks ago.”
If you are interested in getting more information about the dividers, contact Kryton at 319-266-1771.

Cedar Falls CAPS

The Cedar Falls Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program is an innovative High School Elective Course that takes students outside of the traditional classroom for half their day, each day for an entire semester.  They are immersed in professional environments to develop problem-solving and professional skills to work on real projects for real business clients. This experience along with focused development on career exploration helps prepare each student-associate for their purpose beyond their life as a student. CAPS is an example of how business, community and education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs.

Cedar Falls CAPS is an Iowa STEM BEST Partner and an affiliate program of the Cedar Valley CAPS consortium. Other high schools in the partnership include Columbus Catholic, Denver, Don Bosco Catholic, Jesup and Wapsie Valley. This article was provided by Cedar Falls CAPS.

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 24, 2020 at 3:52am.