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UW-Stout News Story

Plastics engineering students help youth hockey program

July 15, 2013

The Menomonie Youth Hockey Association is benefiting from an offseason assist made by several University of Wisconsin-Stout students.

Plastics engineering majors at UW-Stout designed and produced brackets that help the MYHA create a temporary hockey rink for dryland training.

Plastic bracket made by UW-Stout students.The rigid brackets connect the ends of 2-inch-by-6-inch boards, each 10 feet long. The boards form most of the perimeter of a rink inside the Dunn County Ice Arena, part of the Dunn County Rec Park.

MYHA coaches Jason Figler and Chad Ayers are excited to have a nearly regulation-size rink for their Sunday night summer sessions, in which hockey players use inline skates on the cement floor.

"We were looking for a way to keep the pucks in the rink and have a border that was durable enough so it wouldn't break away very easily. The Stout students absolutely nailed it," said Jason Figler, one of the summer coaches.

The regular winter ice rink is surrounded by high walls and glass. Except for one section the rink is dismantled during the offseason to accommodate other events in the arena, such as the Dunn County Fair.

Brackets connect 2x6s to form most of a temporary hockey rink.With the 2x6s dropping into the brackets, coaches can easily set up and take down the summer rink.

Figler and co-coach Chad Ayers previously used padding to create a summer rink. However, they didn't have enough padding for a full-size rink, it was too expensive and it was getting frayed on the cement.

They approached Adam Kramschuster, UW-Stout associate professor who is the plastics engineering program director. They know him from a winter adult recreation hockey league.

Figler explained his bracket idea, Kramschuster talked to four of his students, a prototype was created and production began. Students spent about 50 hours designing and making about 75 of the brackets using software and molding machines in the plastics lab.

Adam Kramschuster"They did it all on their own time and did a great job," Kramschuster said. "They can be proud that something they did is benefiting the community."

The students, some of whom have since graduated, are Ryan Amundson, of McFarland; Derek Bruesch, of Waupun; Derrick Jahr, of Roseville, Minn.; and Zachary Johnson, of Browntown.

"It was an enjoyable experience to perform the entire cycle of the product design and build and manufacture the parts for a group that can benefit from the products we made," Bruesch said.

Bruesch said the project was good hands-on training. He follows the same process in the job he landed after graduation as a project engineer for Flambeau Inc. in Baraboo.

"It was an opportunity to try out all of the skills I learned through my program at Stout," he said.

To create the brackets UW-Stout students used plastic donated by RTP Co. of Winona, Minn., and aluminum donated by Remmele Engineering of New Brighton, Minn. The molding machine in the lab is a donation from Scientific Molding Corp. of Somerset.

Eighteen to 25 hockey players, most ages 10 and younger, attend the weekly dryland training sessions, Figler said. The sessions began in mid-April and end the first week of September.

"The brackets came out perfect, and the fact that they were donated was priceless to us," Figler said.

For more information on UW-Stout's plastics engineering program, go here.

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