(From left to right: Hannah Warner (intern), Anna Peshock (intern) and Stuart Auers (Red Fox Founder))
When a local medtech company designs a new body sling, compression vest or medical device, they can rely on Red Fox Innovations, an industrial sewing contractor, to manufacture the product for them.
Red Fox is only a few years old, but already it’s operating at high capacity. Offering a robust lineup of services, including design and prototyping, industrial sewing and automated cutting, the small team at Red Fox has their hands full.
“We started out very small -there was only three of us,” explained Stuart Auers, one of Red Fox’s founders. “And we were doing all the day-to-day tasks ourselves. We realized that we needed help.”
The solution came with a suggestion from Caerus Corporation, a neighboring business in the same building. “We knew they had hired a few interns so I asked them, ‘who do you do it through?’”
Caerus, like many small tech companies in Minnesota, finds and funds their talent with assistance from The SciTech Internship Program, a state-funded resource that helps small businesses connect with college STEM students while reimbursing the employers for half the interns’ wages, up to $2,500 per student.
“They sent me the link and it sounded like a good opportunity,” Auers said.
This spring, Red Fox hired Hannah Warner and Anna Peshock. Both interns are students from the University of Minnesota but came to their roles from very different backgrounds.
Warner, now entering her senior year, is majoring in aerospace engineering and mechanics. She was hired as a Manufacturing Engineer Intern, evaluating Red Fox’s existing manufacturing processes and coming up with new, more efficient ways to improve them.
Using those talents for a medical device manufacturer, she said, is especially rewarding. “I love how you can see the direct impact your work has on improving people’s lives,” Warner explained, “and it’s easy to see the purpose of my role as an engineer.”
Peshock came to this internship as a graduate student with a background in textile production and management. As a Product Design Engineer, Peshock combined her knowledge of design, engineering and manufacturing processes to help Red Fox create more functional products.
A fun challenge
For Peshock, transitioning from a background in traditional apparel production to medical devices was simultaneously exciting and, at times, a bit of a challenge.
“It’s hard jumping into a new industry,” Peshock said. “I didn’t know how to use the GerberCutter machine, for example. I’d heard tell of GerberCutters but I didn’t have any experience with one. So familiarizing myself with the equipment or the terminology was like learning a whole different language.”
When figuring out how best to “translate” this new language, Peshock relied on her past experiences in management and production. “Even if you don’t know something,” she said, “you still have to sound professional and figure out how to solve your own problems, ask the right questions and learn how to use the machine. That’s been a fun challenge. “
Working towards a goal
Warner and Peshock are only part way through their internships and both have set goals they’d like to achieve before their time at Red Fox comes to a close.
- Peshock is looking forward to helping the company develop its own products
- Warner would like to complete all of her objectives and be “busy every day”
- Auers’ goal for the interns is that their industry experience will help them learn
From the sound of it, they’re already off to a good start.
Small Minnesota companies receive up to $2,500 to help pay a STEM intern. Wage matches for this summer are winding down, but the new program year is set to launch on September 1st!