Northrop Grumman opens its doors to Columbia Middle robotics students

As part of the fifth national Manufacturing Day, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Northrop Grumman Marine Systems hosted 18 students from Columbia Middle School’s robotics program at its Sunnyvale facility on Sept. 29.

It was the first time that students were able to come into the facility where they spent the day learning about technology and manufacturing careers directly from Northrop Grumman engineers, managers, and manufacturing personnel who volunteered their time for the event.

After being welcomed by Karen Campbell, vice president of the company’s Marine Systems business unit, students and engineers went straight to work on a real-world STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) project, assembling prosthetic hands that will be used by children missing fingers, thumbs or partial hands in regions throughout the world.

Orfilia Hull, 13, works on assembling a prosthetic hand with Northrop Grumman during Manufacturing Day.  The robotics student hopes to someday be a doctor. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).
Orfilia Hull, 13, works on assembling a prosthetic hand with Northrop Grumman during Manufacturing Day. The robotics student hopes to someday be a doctor. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).

The project was made possible through a partnership with the nonprofit organization Enabling the Future, which provides the free 3-D-printed design for prosthetic fingers and hands to children across the world who can’t afford them.

Northrop Grumman used their 3-D printing capability for the 120 prosthetic hands, which were assembled at Sunnyvale and 11 other Northrop Grumman campuses across the United States.

Eighth grader Vanessa Sanchez Guarneros, 13, was one of the first students to complete building her prosthetic that morning.

“I told her, in 10 years, to give us a call and we’d love to hire you,” said Continuous Improvement Operations Manager Matt Schulte.

12-year-old Alfredo Castaneda said he enjoyed learning how the joints work on the prosthetics and getting to help someone in need.

“Children in need of a limb, I feel like they deserve more, so I’m happy to do something to help them,” the seventh grader said. He hopes to grow up to be an engineer or inventor to help make the world a better place.

Deven Papineau, 12, is guided by a Northrop Grumman engineer  as he assembles a prosthetic hand to be donated to a charity during Manufacturing Day at the company's Sunnyvale site. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).
Deven Papineau, 12, is guided by a Northrop Grumman engineer as he assembles a prosthetic hand to be donated to a charity during Manufacturing Day at the company’s Sunnyvale site. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).

Following the workshop, the seventh and eighth graders were taken on a factory tour, not typically granted to the general public.

The Sunnyvale campus of Northrop Grumman which has been conducting manufacturing operations since 1906, continues to be a leading provider of missile launch systems, propulsion systems and power generation systems for naval submarines and surface ships.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to showcase manufacturing as a career, and for CMS students to observe first-hand how new technologies like 3-D printing are impacting the world,” said Principal Mary Beth Allmann.

“What made this event truly special was the opportunity for our students to work side-by-side with Northrop Grumman employees, knowing they were building something that will benefit children all around the world,” Allmann added. ” It was an experience our students will never forget.”

Columbia Middle School  students built 120 of these prosthetic hands to be donated to the charity, Enabling the Future. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).
Columbia Middle School students built 120 of these prosthetic hands to be donated to the charity, Enabling the Future. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).

Robotics and Technology classes started in 2007-2008 as an after school club then became an elective in 2008-2009 school year. Students learn through discovery the skills, techniques and background knowledge of robotics and technology following three level courses.

Beginners design and build projects from scratch and learning about laws of motions. Intermediate build “mechanical animals” and learn about motors, gears, and electric power, and Advanced level students design, build and program VEX robots and learn the foundations of programming “real time” applications.

Contributor Alia Wilson.

 

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