When Brookfield resident Mark Meier was first getting his business started, he went to Facebook for help.
"I wrote a post that was like, 'does anyone know someone who can do chassis drawings?' and (someone) mentioned reaching out to the high school," Meier said. "It was a very fortuitous Facebook post."
Meier, who owns Limelight Amplification, was looking for someone to design a part for his business' guitar amps. More specifically, he was looking for someone to blueprint three chassis — metal compartments used to hold knobs and electronic bits — for his amps.
Based on the suggestion, Meier contacted Brookfield East High School's Engineering Department. The department, it turned out, was interested.
"He asked if I had any students interested in the project," said Nick Havlik, chair of BEHS' Applied Technology and Engineering Department. "We're always interested in building partnerships with community members and businesses."
Two of Havlik's students volunteered for the project: senior Evan Becker, 17, and sophomore Tyler Parker, 16.
"I thought it'd be a cool opportunity to use what we've learned in a real-life scenario," Parker said.
For the past several weeks, the boys have spent part of their class time using computer programs to create digital templates for the chassis, which will then be used to manufacture the sheet-metal products.
The students also stayed in contact with Meier outside of school, exchanging emails and phone calls, to keep on track and gain input.
"I have no real involvement in this," Havlik said. "I helped set up the contact, but they have all the responsibility for the project."
Havlik said he has such confidence in the two students that he will often leave them alone to work while he teaches another class next door.
"This is the real world for them," he said. "Mark is like a real client for them."
The boys aren't paid for their work, but the hands-on experience is invaluable, he said.
"They've been great," Meier said. "They've been as professional and quick as anyone else I've worked with.
"I think the (savings) is the least of the benefits for me. Spending the extra time with the kids to get this done is so worth it to me. And this summer, they'll be able to walk into a music store and say 'I helped make these types of amps.' That's pretty freaking cool."
Soon, the boys will be able to see their digital creations manufactured into physical materials. Meier said he hopes to have his amp merchandise ready for purchase later this spring.
"Personally, I've learned more from doing this than by studying about it in books," Becker laughed. "... And I play guitar, so I've been drooling over these (amps)."
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