STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are not just fun – they are also key drivers of regional innovation.
The important role that STEM disciplines plays makes it all the more vital to engage young people in these subjects from an early age. The Verein Technikförderung Südwestfalen e.V., founded in 2011, is an association in South Westphalia that aims to inspire young people in the region to pursue a technical career and to make the region attractive to the next generation of talent. Its members include around 90 regional businesses and educational partners. The association runs two local networks – the zdi-Netzwerk Ennepe-Ruhr for the Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis district and the zdi-Netzwerk technik_mark for the town of Hagen and the Märkischer Kreis district. Both networks are part of the joint initiative Zukunft durch Innovation.NRW (zdi) operating across North Rhine-Westphalia. To encourage STEM uptake among pupils, two learning hubs are also provided under the auspices of the Verein Technikförderung Südwestfalen e.V. – a technology centre in Lüdenscheid and another in Hagen, which opened at the end of August 2021. Set out over 200 square metres and spanning two floors, the technology centre in Hagen offers creative young minds a host of exciting opportunities to explore and experiment free of charge. item also lends its support to the centre, providing a mobile machine table based on the MB Building Kit System.
A wide range of free activities for school classes
“The technology centre in Hagen is a laboratory for pupils. We use hands-on examples to give school classes insights into STEM professions,” says Tharsika Sivalingam, project coordinator for the zdi-Netzwerk technik_mark and project manager of the new technology centre. Together with Maren Gottschling, her colleague at the Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis network, she is pleased with the centre’s good start and the positive response from the participating schools. The basic format for class visits consists of special modules in which the pupils assume the role of staff at an imaginary company. They are allocated to different departments – finance, corporate communications, marketing, R&D and production. Production in particular is very popular, as Ms Gottschling points out: “Those who are assigned to this department make a real product for the class and can take it home afterwards. You can see they have a certain pride in having made it themselves. It’s a nice memento.” In addition to the modules, which are available from German year 7 (roughly aged 13) and can be booked via an online portal or through Ms Sivalingam, other activities such as holiday courses and competitions take place at the Hagen Technology Centre. Schools can also borrow technical equipment, such as a 3D printer or Lego robots, free of charge.
The closed, rounded outer surfaces of Profiles 8 R40-90° light, natural are perfect for the corners of the table and especially for the tabletop enclosure containing the cutting machine.
In the “Metal Machining” module, pupils produce a key ring on their own using a 3-axis CNC cutting machine. They also learn the basics in relation to the use and properties of cooling lubricants. The CNC cutting machine comes from EBRO ARMATUREN Gebr. Bröer GmbH (represented by Markus Petrat), while the part about lubricants is run by Dr. Patrick Degen (CARL BECHEM GmbH). The machine table sponsored by item uses profile technology from the MB Building Kit System, specifically Profiles 8 40×40 light, natural and Profiles 8 R40-90° light, natural. The latter, with their closed and rounded outer surfaces, are perfect for the corners of the table and especially for the tabletop enclosure containing the cutting machine. “Safety was also an important factor, of course. You can’t just reach in, but at the same time you can see everything through the protective panes. And when the process is finished, everything is easily accessible via a door,” says Maren Gottschling. Castors enable flexible positioning of the machine table. A Pivot Arm means the height of the attached monitor can be adjusted appropriately. Wooden panels complete the minimalist, stylish design of the machine table.
Versatile profile technology from Solingen at the Hagen Technology Centre
A training instructor at a member company of the Verein Technikförderung Südwestfalen put the association in touch with item in the first instance. The initial contact between the two zdi project coordinators and Giuliano Longo from the item systems engineering sales team took place back in 2019. He was immediately taken with the idea of the technology centre. The two parties obviously share a commitment to inspiring interest in everything technical. After a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the collaboration was finally able to begin. Our item Engineeringtool software came in handy, enabling a member of staff at EBRO ARMATUREN to design the machine table through the browser interface. Ms Gottschling believes using item profile technology delivers other major benefits: “We are very satisfied with the item profiles. They are extremely versatile and the table was designed to meet our requirements exactly. The result also looks very professional and cutting-edge, which is particularly important with our target group. The advice was excellent, too.” Ms Sivalingam agrees: “Yes, we are delighted to have partners who bring such expertise to the project. It’s vital for the Hagen Technology Centre.” Initial ideas for more joint projects are already in the pipeline, so watch this space.
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