James Rumsey Technical Institute Students Take on a Manufacturing Innovation Challenge  

Martinsburg, WV, May 10, 2021

In celebration of West Virginia Manufacturing Education Day, Explore the New Manufacturing has announced the completion of a Manufacturing Innovation Challenge, which teamed 13 Tri-County Robotics students from the James Rumsey Technical Institute (JRTI) and Quad Graphics.  The challenge required the students to develop a robotic visual inspection of magazine covers to provide quality control on key areas like the width of the color borders. 

“I was very impressed with the solution that the student team developed. I absolutely could see the sensors and software that they presented being incorporated on our line”, commented Darren Smallwood who works in Finishing Technical Development/Automation at Quad Graphics. “I graduated from the James Rumsey Technical Institute in 1996 and it is still one of the best technical schools in the region.” 

In preparation for the challenge, the students were given an in-depth virtual tour of Quad Graphics’ Inwood facility.  The tour included employee commentary about their jobs and why they chose to work in manufacturing.   The Quad Graphics team showed the production floor with the equipment and employees spoke about their jobs, why they chose to work in manufacturing and advice for young people. At the end of the tour, Quad Graphics explained that quality control is an important part of their business. They presented the student team with the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge to develop a robotic inspection tool using vision technology to identify a poorly trimmed book and remove defective books from the inventory. 

The challenge concluded ten weeks later with a team presentation where the students explained their discovery process and obstacles they encountered along with potential solutions that were considered. The team then revealed their ultimate solution and demonstrated the automated inspection system.  

Jessie Butcher, JRTI Robotics Instructor, believes that her students gain valuable experience by working with manufacturers on a real-world challenge. “My students have truly enjoyed the project and have continued working today on the next steps without my further prompting.  They are so excited.”, said Jessie. 

Participating JRTI Students: Darius Fenton Jr., R.J. Gillespie, Jhy Gildowan, William Harris, Briana Holston, Kadin Kemp, Cameron Knott, Cole McClintock, Chase Snyder, Corey Travers, Gavon-Shon Wrye, Yamil Toro Zapata, and Gracie Fox Zigler 

Quad Graphic Team Members: Brooke Boyer and Darren Smallwood 

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has recognized May 10, 2021, as West Virginia Manufacturing Education Day. The proclamation celebrates and recognizes students and educators across the Mountain State for their excellence and commitment to the next generation of workers in the manufacturing industry. “Today is to recognize those in education and industry who tirelessly cultivate innovative and engaging educational programs connecting student interest and skills with meaningful career opportunities in manufacturing.  West Virginia Manufacturing Education Day is a celebration of the state’s students and educators for their excellence and commitment to the next generation in the manufacturing industry workforce,” said Explore the New Manufacturing Program Director Monica Cross.     

Explore’s Manufacturing Innovation Challenge is designed to allow high school student teams to solve real-world manufacturing problems faced by West Virginia manufacturers. Each challenge is unique and can come from a variety of aspects of the company’s operations.  Students learn how problem-solving skills are a critical element to job performance.  The challenge concludes with a formal team presentation, after which students and manufacturers discuss the feasibility of implementing the solution. The experience illustrates how teamwork, adaptability, and communication skills are used to implement the industry’s solutions. 

Explore the New Manufacturing is currently looking for schools and companies to take part in next year’s MIC program, as well as their What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? Video Contests, Explore the New Manufacturing Academies, and regional Scrap Competitions. If you would like more information, contact Tom Reed at tom@wvma.com or (304) 612-4912. 


About the Program:  Explore the New Manufacturing is a program of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association Educational Fund, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization. Explore brings together tomorrow’s workforce with local and regional manufacturing companies to inform students of educational and career opportunities in the state’s manufacturing industry. For more information visit www.exploremfgwv.com