WARDJet at IMTS 2016
When Greg Jones of AMT, VP of the Smartforce Student Summit, talked to us about developing a hands-on, student friendly event for IMTS 2016 we knew it was something our company could embrace. After all, WARDJet has always been transparent in sharing our waterjet knowledge and educating people has long been part of our company culture. We also knew that our WARDKit, a build-it-yourself waterjet, would lend itself perfectly to an interactive event concept.
Jump forward six months and that concept became the WARDJet Build It! Challenge, a waterjet build-off competition between students and industry professionals. To fuel the competitive nature of participants, WARDJet provided a chance for one team on either side of the competition to win a waterjet. And even though we asked participants to spend an hour with us getting their hands dirty, we drew in hundreds of participants and countless onlookers. The response was overwhelming at times. The booth was so crowded during the middle of the week that neighboring exhibitors called security to corral WARDJet visitors closer to the booth space!
Images: Gantry and Z-Carriage build stations (students in green and pros in blue)
In addition to the build activities, we offered live remote cutting demonstrations.
Images: We couldn’t help but get a kick out of how much fun our young “waterjet operators” had.
For some visitors, the most popular booth activity was our augmented reality experience which allowed viewers to interact with a hologram version of a Z-2543 waterjet using a Microsoft HoloLens. Look for this technology to be integrated into other WARDJet experiences in the future.
Students in particular loved our T-Shirt giveaway so before long our presence was felt throughout the hall in the form of a sea of green and blue shirts. And why wouldn’t they wear them? After all, we were awarding an Amazon Tap to one random person we spotted wearing our shirt around the show each day.
Images: students sporting the green WARDKit Shirts; Amazon Tap prize winners
During the event, over 200 pros and students registered for a waterjet build-slot. Over the course of the show, participating pros built an E-1515 waterjet a total of five times while the students built its twin, the WARDKit 5x5, a total of six times. Each time the waterjet was finished, it was tested in several areas related to accuracy and performance resulting in a daily point total. By the final day of the competition, students topped the pros with a final score of 24 to 18. Great job, students!
The big winners of the Build It! Challenge were the two lucky teams who won the grand prize waterjets valued at over $200,000. On the pro side, John Mullet of Laureate Machine and Automation from Leipsic, Ohio won the E-1515 waterjet. Laureate Machine and Automation offers fabrication for a variety of industries and is looking forward to adding abrasive waterjet to their list of capabilities. The student team who won the WARDKit 5x5 for their school fabrication shop was Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri. Missouri S&T is a member of the University of Missouri system, with many students studying engineering, sciences, and mathematics. WARDJet plans to provide an update on these waterjets as they are installed and commissioned at their new homes in Missouri and Ohio.
WARDJet walks away from the show humbled by the positive response we received and the sense that we provided a unique learning experience to both students and professionals alike. This event clearly supported the suggestions made by Greg Jones, V.P. of the AMT Smartforce Student Summit: “As technology advances at such a rapid pace for today’s young people, it’s important that we continue to challenge them and present them with the tools that will set them on a rewarding [career path].” WARDJet has always made an effort to be transparent in sharing knowledge regarding waterjet cutting technology, but it was particularly rewarding to do so as a part of IMTS. Our team will continue to take an active role in supporting the revitalization of manufacturing in the coming years.