U-M student named to national list of innovative young people in manufacturing

A 19-year-old University of Michigan (U-M) student is the youngest person named to Manufacturing Engineering magazine's 2017 list of notable young people in the manufacturing field.


The magazine's annual "30 Under 30" list honors young people in the manufacturing field who show initiative and innovation, set high goals and meet them, have experience working the shop floor, and give back by encouraging young people to pursue STEM education and manufacturing as a viable career choice.


Joshua Cukier, who was the recipient of an SME Education Foundation Scholarship, already had experience with his high school's robotics team before arriving at U-M. Once at U-M, he picked up hands-on experience with computer-aided design programs as a member of the Human-Machine Interface subdivision of the Michigan Formula One Hybrid Racing Team (MHybrid).


Cukier says he is interested in both reforming the old-fashioned image that manufacturing has and in pushing the boundaries of conventional manufacturing processes.


"I'd like to see more younger people getting into manufacturing and being innovative," Cukier says.


He says that technologies like autonomous vehicles or artificial intelligence get a lot of press, but what many don't realize is that manufacturing techniques have to be updated to support these new technologies.


"As those evolve, the mechanical components that make that a reality must be created new as well," Cukier says.


Cukier is currently in his second summer as a manufacturing engineering intern at Falcon Lakeside Manufacturing in Stevensville, Mich., a supplier of die-cast parts. Cukier says that, as an intern, he's been given latitude to experiment and come up with new models and layouts, study industrial robotics, and develop a plan for automating work sequences (called "machining cells") usually done by hand.


Cukier says he is interested in how both robotics and additive manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing) technologies can be pushed even further in manufacturing.


"In the past 3-D printing has been a bit of a novelty, but it's getting to the point now that it's more feasible to use it with fewer defects," he says.


Robotics in manufacturing is nothing new, but Cukier says he thinks more flexible robots that can be easily and quickly reprogrammed and moved around factory floors will revolutionize the industry.


Cukier says one of the best things about a career in manufacturing is seeing components or processes you designed being used out in the real world.


"The biggest thing is seeing the impact of what you've made in everyday life," he says. "At Falcon, we're making little pieces for electric car batteries, and when I see a Volt go by, I can say, 'I helped with that.'"


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photos courtesy of Joshua Cukier.

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