Projects‎ > ‎HMC Machine Shop‎ > ‎

Shop Reform

posted Jan 2, 2014, 12:51 PM by Taylor Peterson   [ updated May 20, 2015, 9:45 PM ]

Before I became a shop proctor, I had noticed many issues with the way the shop was run. For example, every proctor gave different advice, the shop was extremely disorganized, and it wasn't easy to learn about more advanced machining processes. 

Once I became a shop proctor, I came to realize why this was happening: shop proctors received virtually no training and no one was taking ownership for improving the shop. I felt that this needed to change and contacted the current Head Shop Proctors (student managers of the shop) to try to start making improvements, but nothing came out of it. 

While many other students shared my views on the shop, few were willing to help out and had the time to do so. However, Sean Messenger was willing to join me in shaping up the shop. We both thought it was high time someone did something to change the state of things. So, starting in the summer after our sophomore year, that's exactly what we started doing.

In the following years, Sean and I actively pushed for shop reform (cleanliness, organization, and (most importantly) training for the shop proctors. 

One of our first steps was to improve the training of proctors. To that end, we petitioned the school to pay for professional training of a few of the more experienced and dedicated shop proctors, intending those individuals to go on and train the rest of the shop proctors. After considering our proposal, the engineering department decided to keep things in house and have the school machinist train us on a weekly basis during the summer. 

In response to our requests, Paul developed a curriculum for all proctors and used us as guinea pigs to test it out. We learned a ton in the process, have used that knowledge to help others, and worked on improving the training process. 

In addition to proctor training reforms, Sean and I started to tackle shop organization over the summers. After discussions with the faculty in charge of the shop, we took responsibility for implementing 5S methodologies in the shop to improve safety, better organize materials and equipment, and create a better working environment. For more information on this project and lots of pictures, check out Sean's write-up here

One of the big things we learned through the process is that it is absolutely essential to include everyone who uses the shop in any significant changes. Sean and I had come in with the (in hindsight, somewhat silly) idea that people would love all of the changes we were making. While that was generally true, there were a few contentious changes (e.g. removing the large piles of wood scraps) and several proctors had differing views on what the ideal shop looked like. 

Once we realized we needed to involve others more, Sean and I made extensive efforts to get feedback on the changes we were making and dynamically altered what we were doing in response to those suggestions. When the fall semester started, we gave presentations to the shop proctors about why we thought all the individual changes were justified and then took (and implemented) even more suggestions from these discussions. 

We also organized a monthly open shop meeting for anyone on campus to voice concerns or suggestions in person. This meeting was supplemented with an online form that anyone could use to comment on the changes or the current status of the shop. We also hosted a monthly proctor meeting. Whether it was us bribing them with pizza or the proctors just being more involved (more the latter than the former), we got the most feedback from these sessions. 

The shop is staying much cleaner than it has been in the past, and more and more students are getting advanced training. All told, it looks like our changes have taken hold and we have finally started the ball rolling!