Several students from the Florida Institute of Technology chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) recently took a tour of MC Assembly’s Melbourne, Florida plant.

The three-hour tour included a question-and-answer session and was led by Dan Prina, MC Assembly’s Project Manager of Lean Enterprise and Continuous Improvement. The primary goal was to give the students exposure to a real-world manufacturing facility.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Joseph Fisher, a graduate student majoring in mechanical engineering. “The facility is really nice and really well-organized. I was very impressed with the company. They have a huge emphasis on ensuring their supply chain is running efficiently. I liked getting the opportunity to talk with engineers in the industry so I can find out what it’s like.”

Omar Farrag, another mechanical engineering student, said he came away impressed with the level of technology employed by MC Assembly.

“I liked seeing the Automatic Optical Inspector (AOI) machines that scan the circuit boards and figure out the specifications of it and how accurate they are,” Farrag said. “Some of the machines I never thought functioned like that.”

“It was exciting to see the machines and the systematic process they have set up,” said Mario Acosta, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “It was impressive how exact and precise the machines are and how they were able to place such small components on the boards so quickly.”

The tour was organized by MC Assembly’s Michael Watts, who served as a chairman of the very same ASME Florida Tech Chapter in 1994-1995 when he was a mechanical engineering student.

“Our primary goal is to support the community,” Watts said. “In this case, it was our pleasure to support the local university, Florida Tech, by holding the tour.  It also helps us with brand recognition, as we compete with larger companies in the area who have greater brand recognition. The students were all very curious and found the tour very informative.”

Luis Ramirez, MC Assembly’s Chief Operating Officer, gave an introduction to the group at the start of the tour, talking about various topics including design versus manufacturability. At the end of the tour, the students were encouraged to ask questions. Topics included internships and senior design project opportunities and what to expect from them and many asked about interviewing and resumes.

“Many of them haven’t had internships yet,” Watts said. “For 80 percent of the students, this was their first exposure to a working manufacturing floor, so to actually get that feeling of the differences between the working world and the college world is a good first step in understanding that it’s a different environment and that there’s a lot of fun to be had when you get out of college.”

Watts said these opportunities can make a difference in a student’s career decisions. Some of the students were focused on design engineering, but were curious to see the manufacturing side and learn how the design side connects with the manufacturing side.

“With mechanical engineers, many go into design work, but some go into manufacturing in one way or another,” Watts said. “That’s what happened with me when I was their age. After interning at Rockwell Collins, my passion turned from design to manufacturing, and I switched to industrial engineering. So this was like being on the other side of the fence.”