Planes, robots, and granola bars

Hey guys! These last two weeks have been crazy – especially with finalizing the details of an awesome trip that my friends and I organized through ASME.

So, this past Saturday, ASME UBC took 40 people down to Mulkiteo, Washington and Everett, Washington to visit MTM Robotics and the Boeing Assembly Plant, respectively. Of the 40 people, there was a great mix of undergraduate mechanical students, some materials engineering students, and a bunch of first years! On top of that, we also had the Board of Executives representative from the ASME BC Chapter join us aswell. It was really fantastic to see how the event reached more than just mechanical students.

The day started at 7:30am on Saturday, March 5th. All of the students met us at the EDC atrium to sign in and find their spot on the charter bus. As 8:00am rolled around, we were on our way towards the US border. We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful, sunny day for our trip. Once we got to the border, we were greeted by a super friendly border guard who directed our group towards the other less-friendly-looking border guards. Once we all made it across the border, we all got back on the bus and we were on our way to MTM Robotics (formerly known as Mobile Tool Management/MTM).

For those of you who didn’t catch my last post, MTM Robotics is a supplier of robotics and system software that aids aerospace manufacturing. Some of their big clients include Boeing and AirBus. One of the cool robots we got to see is called the Mini Flextrack. It’s a robot that travels along vacuum rails (Venturi effect) which are positioned onto the fuselage of an aircraft. This allows the robots to drill holes and insert fasteners autonomously. These robots replace the traditional labourers that would otherwise have to manually locate the hole, drill and insert the fasteners themselves. Having this automation allows for a quicker manufacturing/assembly time for big companies like Boeing and AirBus to keep up with the demand for airplanes. Click here to see the Mini Flextrack

At MTM Robotics, we were greeted by Eric, the Senior Systems Engineer and also a UBC Mech alumnus! He gave our students an incredibly comprehensive tour of the MTM facilities. I visited MTM last spring, and it was amazing to see how much they had expanded and grown within the last year. Last year, they had a large chunk of their basement workshop devoted to material storage and now, they have converted it into a full work-space/test station for their outgoing robots. They are also discussing potential expansion into a larger facility within the next year! There were some very thoughtful and enthusiastic questions from the students and Eric answered all of them with great detail.

After MTM, our group stopped at a nearby strip-mall area and grabbed lunch before heading off to the Boeing Everett Factory. When we arrived, the students spent about 45 minutes walking through the Future of Flight Museum which included life-sized models of the Boeing 747 stabilizer, Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine and the G.E GEnx engine. There was also a cross-section cut out of one of the Boeing fuselage’s with MTM’s Mini Flextrack attached to the side! The tour of the actual factory floor was really neat too – unfortunately, no cameras were allowed. The first part of the tour focused on the Boeing 747 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Outside of the factory floor, we were fortunate enough to see one parked 787 Dreamlifter and another landing on the runway. The second part of the tour was on the other end of the plant and focused on the Boeing 777 and 777-x. The 777-x features all composite wings and new engines. Needless to say, the students were overwhelmed by the size of the Boeing factory and all of its rich history.

After Boeing, we began our trip home. One of our tour organizers bought waaaay too many granola bars to give out to the students as a pre-dinner snack. I’m talking like atleast a hundred granola bars. So, we gave those out and some juice boxes and water bottles. Shortly after, most of the students fell asleep on the long trek home. I spent a good 45 minutes talking to some first years about Mech and how it all works and encouraged them to apply to Mech as their specialization! Seriously, after a trip like this one, I don’t think it takes much convincing that Mech is the way to go!

All in all, it was a fantastic and super educational day. We hope to expand our trip into a 2-day trip next year to cover more potential companies. It would also be great to see if we could get a more technical tour from Boeing. Now, I’m back on that school grind with assignments and labs due, and a quiz coming up next week.

UBC Engineering students at MTM Robotics on a tour hosted by ASME UBC.

UBC Engineering students at MTM Robotics on a tour hosted by ASME UBC.

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