Apr 01, 2009
The partnership was forged between Seagate and four sixth form students from the school as part of the Engineering Education Scheme, which is managed in Northern Ireland by Sentinus, one of the largest providers of business education activity in Europe. The Scheme aims to promote innovation and creativity in the field of engineering and will culminate with a finale showcase on Tuesday 21 April in Queens University’s Whitla Hall, when the Foyle & Londonderry College group will join teams from across Northern Ireland to exhibit their work and make a presentation to a panel of experts.
Peter McMenamin, the process engineer with Seagate who has been mentoring the group, set the research project for the group. The students were tasked with redesigning the containers (lot boxes) that are used to transport the Springtown facility’s product (thin film wafers that each contain thousands of recording heads for hard disk drives). The main requirements of the design brief included the capacity to carry multi-size wafers, improvements that would reduce damage to wafers and incorporation of radio frequency identification devices for wafer tracking purposes.
Explaining how the students set about tackling the project, Foyle & Londonderry College student, Christopher Ramsey, said; “We began by identifying the issues associated with the current box design, then progressed to designing and integrating solutions to enable both wafer sizes to use a common lot box. Our design solution had to take into account design constraints in the areas of health, safety and ergonomics. We also needed to evaluate the commercial and environmental benefits to Seagate.
“I’ve always enjoyed technology and practical classes at school, but this project has really opened my eyes to the range of careers to which engineering opens doors. It’s a fantastic experience to be able to work on a real life project where the solution we’ve found will actually be put into practice by Seagate.”
Seagate’s Peter McMenamin said; “I’m enjoying working with this group of students and witnessing how rewarding it can be to find solutions to sometimes complex problems, especially when you get to see a useful end result. Engineering isn’t just a great profession – it’s also one of the key driving forces behind innovation that, in turn, aids the growth of the local economy. It’s therefore imperative that partnerships between industry and education are developed to help encourage more young people to work towards careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.”
“I’ve been astonished to observe how this Scheme has helped develop the communication, problem solving and team building skills of the students over such a short time. This hands-on experience of working with an engineering company is invaluable. It has allowed theories and techniques to be lifted off the page and put into practice in the real world and has proved very motivational for the students,” added David Phillips, a physics teacher at Foyle & Londonderry College.
Seagate is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of hard disk drives and storage solutions, providing products for a wide-range of applications, including Enterprise, Desktop, Mobile Computing, Consumer Electronics and Branded Solutions. Seagate’s business model leverages technology leadership and world-class manufacturing to deliver industry-leading innovation and quality to its global customers, with the goal of being the time-to-market leader in all markets in which it participates. The company is committed to providing award-winning products, customer support and reliability to meet the world’s growing demand for information storage. Seagate can be found around the globe and at http://www.seagate.com
Seagate employs more than 1,350 people in Northern Ireland at its wafer fabrication facility in Springtown, where the Company develops and manufactures recording heads, which write information onto and read information from the recording disk inside a hard drive product.
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