LSU ME Instructor Combines Teaching With Volunteerism
September 26, 2022
BATON ROUGE, LA – In 2011, Front Yard Bikes in Baton Rouge began as a community bike shop with a simple focus on teaching participants of all ages how to fix and maintain bikes. Today, FYB (a 501c3) has evolved into a transformative force, teaching youth mechanics and workforce skills while promoting inclusivity, mentorship, recreation, and academic achievement through safe, free, after-school and summer programming.
LSU Mechanical Engineering Instructor Will Adams worked for FYB as its educational coordinator for three years before he began teaching full time at LSU in 2021. This past July, Adams approached LSU ME Department Chair Dimitri Nikitopoulos about an idea to bring in four FYB students between the ages of 12 and 17 to learn more about manufacturing by working in LSU’s Advanced Machine & Manufacturing Facility.
“This pilot program would give FYB students the chance to build upon their solid welding skills and also learn computer engineering,” Adams said. “Dr. Nikitopoulos seemed excited about it and even found a sponsor for this year and moving forward.”
Besides enhancing their welding skills, the students learned to use a three-axis grid system and applied it to making a part in AutoCAD doing computer-aided manufacturing, which is telling the CNC machine what tool to use and how to use it. Then, the students went to the CNC mills, where they made the parts.
“FYB students loved coming to the AMMF and seeing all of the robotic arms,” Adams said. “These are students with a lot of hands-on experience, so they’re able to really take in that mechanical knowledge. We even used a waterjet on 325 steel parts that the students will weld onto a fence at their new location.”
Adams said some of the students even expressed interest in majoring in engineering.
“These kids are very bright and capable,” Adams said. “Seeing them apply what they learned in math in school and apply it to making a part is really cool. Bikes bring them to the table, then FYB is able to talk further mechanics with them and teach them skills that set them up with a vocation for life. I’m proud to build this bridge between FYB students and LSU.”
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Contact: Libby Haydel