School–industry relationship cuts both ways
Steve Andrew and Terry Rillstone describe the way the relationship between St John's College and The Fibreglass Shop has benefits for them both. The students and teachers can explore and be inspired by a range of materials, and the shop gets feedback and information from the students.
Steve Andrew: Partnerships like the one that we’ve developed with The Fibreglass Shop are really invaluable to schools. We’ve been working with The Fibreglass Shop now for I guess 20 years.
Terry Rillstone: Yeah, we have a really good working relationship with the school. It’s, we’ve had that relationship for quite a few years, and it works both ways. We are able to supply materials, a lot of new materials, obviously a lot of information passes. And we use the school in a way that the kids get to experiment with a lot of those products, they get to test them out. We get to get the feedback from the kids – what’s working, what’s not working. And we obviously discuss that information and it’s very beneficial for us in the fact that we do have access to a lot of very new technology that’s not sometimes even on the market. So the kids get a chance to be the first to experiment with us and give us a lot of feedback. That helps us when we are talking to customers, being able to explain to customers what it actually does, because we don’t get, sometimes, the time to work with it ourselves.
Steve: Well, I guess the main thing for me is just that knowledge and the ability to be able to sit down and have a chat about things. And they’re like-minded. When we started doing our sustainable stuff and I came in, it was like they switched the light on. And I was a bit tired that day and I left and I was getting along the road and I wanted to go back to school and do some more because they’d given me so many good ideas.
Terry: Yeah, we’re bringing in a bio-resin from the US. We looked at a fabric called Basalt, which is a rock fibre. We, obviously, bringing those materials in they are relatively new to us. A lot of the applications of that were very new. People hadn’t tried it on a lot of products – on surfboards for example. And so the school was a perfect avenue for us to bring in the bio-products for the school to start experimenting with that stuff. They are using sustainable products like bamboo etc that you know mixes in very well with the bio-resins, the Basalt products, to make a complete eco product. And so it’s been a great avenue to share that information and we’ve since sold a lot more bio-products, basically because of what we’ve done with the school.
Steve: I find when we have in-service workshops in the Waikato, a lot of the teachers like to do, like the boys I guess, like to go and do hands-on things. The Fibreglass Shop has always supported us on that and I think the reason for that is that they can see the importance of it.
Terry: A lot of it is information sharing. It’s not all about purchasing products and that type of thing. We want to make sure that we understand our products more, and that we understand what you’re doing, what the kids are getting out of it – and it’s got to be successful. I mean, we are very passionate about what we do. We were students one day too. And we really, we love working with the kids because there is a lot of enthusiasm, there’s a lot of raw energy and creativeness there that we want to see prosper. And I think from our point of view, the kids are getting exposure to a lot of new materials that they’ve never ever known about or seen before. They are getting exposure to a whole new industry, possibly a whole new career avenue. We just think it’s a great, great avenue where we are both learning from each other. And, yeah, it’s giving us a lot of satisfaction because we’re passing on that passion of what we do and we’re getting that back in spades from the enthusiasm of the kids.
- What opportunities do I give my students to make connections with industry?
- Are there local industries that I could build relationships with to enhance students' knowledge?
Technology in the news
The news items below are examples of interesting initiatives in industry that are relevant to the technology curriculum. You may be able to make connections to interesting initiatives in industries near you.
- Cramped: The urban (lack of) space race: The building industry responds to the need for small affordable flats in cities that are running out of space.
- Solar panel roads: The solar energy industry creates glass-covered smart roads containing solar panels.
- Say Cheese: A mobile cheese factory is created.
Note that you can search the news section by using the keywords under each item.