On the campus of Kansas State University is the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center. Dedicated in October 2013, this state-of-the-art facility is operated by the university’s departments of Grain Science and Industry and Animal Sciences and Industry in support of teaching, research and outreach programs. It is the world’s leading educational and research facility for feed processing, pet food development and grain handling.
Named for Otto Kruse, founder of a successful grain and milling company, the center hosts short courses for industry professionals, lab sessions for students, research projects for faculty, fee-for-service projects for industry and production runs for university animals. Within this facility, university faculty, staff, students and stakeholders look to impact the global feed, pet food and animal nutrition industries.
Assisting the center in this mission are donated Sentry® ISOLOK® SAE and Sentry RX samplers for solid and powder. The ISOLOK SAE is an automatic sampler for dry, flowable materials such as powders, pellets and grains. It can take batch or composite samples of particles up to 3/4 of an inch (19 mm) and collects up to 100 cc of sample volume per cycle. The Sentry RX is an automatic strip sampler that samples free-flowing materials such as pellets, powders, granules, grain, seed and friable materials from drop chutes, bins, hoppers, pipes, or air slides. It also can draw samples from positive or negative, horizontal or vertical dilute phase pneumatic conveying systems. These two samplers often are used in agricultural, grain and animal feed applications.
The company also has designed, manufactured and donated several pieces of custom equipment for use in the Marquette University (Milwaukee) Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics lab. The equipment is used as educational and research tools for students in Marquette’s undergraduate and postgraduate Engineering programs.
Co-op program supports ‘real world’ learning
Donating this equipment to the Kansas State University and Marquette University programs in support of student learning is only one of the ways our company supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational programs. Since 2007, we have had a co-op program in place with the Marquette University Engineering Program. Each selected Marquette mechanical or electrical engineering student begins the program in his or her Junior year, alternating a semester of full-time school with a semester of full-time work at the company. Students typically alternate 3-4 semesters before they graduate. A rotation schedule allows each student to experience a variety of engineering disciplines here, including basic engineering, quality engineering, manufacturing engineering and applications engineering.
Thirteen students have gone through or are currently in the program, with six of those hired as full-time employees after graduation. Generally, three or four students are in the co-op program at any time.
A hire who first worked through the co-op program, Marcease Warren, now the company’s Manufacturing Engineering Supervisor, says, “Participating in the co-op program provided me with experience not only in my field – mechanical engineering – but also exposed me to a professional environment. This was achieved through the rotational program where I was exposed to four functional areas: design, manufacturing, application and sales engineering. The co-op experience also helped further my classroom experience. I gained a better appreciation for things learned in class since I could easily see how those concepts applied to solve real world problems.”
Another company hire from the program, Tim Ozimek, now Design Engineer, says, “The co-op program gave me the opportunity to use the skills I was learning and allowed me to apply them to real world scenarios. After seeing the importance of the subjects, it drove my effort in school. Getting the chance to work in different areas of the company helped me experience all the aspects of engineering before graduation and helped guide me in the career path I wanted to take.”
Jay Kristola, Chief Technology Officer, Sentry Equipment Corp, who heads the company program, says, “We want to give the students exposure to engineering fields that are meaningful to their education and future careers, as well as meaningful to our company. Engineers hired right out of school don’t have the kind of experience companies seek unless they have had the opportunity to participate in a co-op program like this.” Kristola says he lets the students make mistakes so they can learn from them. “If they don’t make mistakes, they’re just validating what they already know. It’s only through mistakes that they learn something new.”
Additionally, the company has had several engineering interns learning on the job. An intern from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Eric Rasmussen, commented, “My experience as an intern here has been a very ‘real world’ one. I have had the chance to do many things that engineers do on a daily basis, and to see engineering from a practical perspective rather than an academic one. This is very valuable because it’s the side of engineering that you won’t see in school.” Students from UW-Madison, Arizona State, Michigan Tech and other colleges have worked as interns at the company.
STEM student support
To support STEM education for younger students, the company supports and sponsors the CooneyTech Robotics Team #269 from Oconomowoc (Wisconsin) High School. The Oconomowoc team has won several awards, including being named the 2013 Northern Lights Regional Finalist - Wisconsin Regional Finalist; 2012 Wisconsin Regional Champion and 2011 Regional Semi-Finalist. The team is part of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) multinational non-profit program, which works to inspire an appreciation of STEM subjects in youth.
Our company also supports STEM Forward, a program in Milwaukee that originally was founded in 1905 as Engineers & Scientists of Milwaukee. Now STEM Forward is Southeastern Wisconsin’s leading technical organization that provides or promotes STEM educational outreach programs so youth are technologically literate and prepared for the 21st century workforce needs.
To encourage student learning and continue to bring new engineers to the field, our company considers support of STEM programs to be vital.
This article was originally published on our website.