May 10, 2004
Duluth News Tribune
When then-welding instructor Dan Maynard was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago, his students at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior decided to do something to honor him.
The result was an annual class project that tests the students' welding skills while raising money to help find a cure for the disease.
"It's probably been one of the first times some of the students have done something for charity," said current welding instructor John Palmer. "Once they get into the spirit of things, it's very infectious and they learn teamwork, they learn organizational skills, planning and running a job."
"The way we've done it is to design and build something which would be marketable, something rustic people would like," Palmer said.
Past projects have included weather vanes, end tables, door stops and hat racks. This year, the students are again making end tables.
"We were going to do something different, but people wanted tables," Palmer said.
Fifty-nine tables at last count.
The orders will raise about $2,000 to battle MS, which attacks both nerve coverings and nerves, causing tingling or numbness in limbs, fatigue and loss of strength. The disease can lead to increasing disability and death.
"I think it's really good we're donating money to the MS Society to find a cure," said Two Harbors student Rachael Shepersky.
Shepersky and her 14 fellow students are responsible for the entire manufacturing process, from design through construction to quality control.
Each table requires the students to cut four pieces of angle iron for the top, four legs, four feet and four cross braces. They also have to cut eight pieces of flat steel, which they shape into scrollwork.
Taking a plasma cutter to a sheet of 3/16-inch-thick steel, the students cut out decorative designs of hearts, bears, moose, horses, hummingbirds and golfers -- whichever the customer ordered.
The project is definitely educational, testing skills in reading blueprints and measuring and cutting steel, Shepersky said.
"You have to be right on with the measurements -- zero tolerance," she said.
The project also reinforces the need to make deadlines.
"You have all these orders, and we said we would have them out by a certain time," she said.
While some students cut pieces, others began welding them together.
"It tests all the skills we learned this year," said Mike Nordeen of
Pike Lake. "It's a reminder of what you learned from the time we got here.
It's nice to know what you can do."
Copyright © 2004, Duluth News Tribune