“I barely knew how to use a drill before my first day at Berd,” recalled Mechanical Engineering and Psychology major Alexis Wagenfeld. “I also had little manufacturing experience before this internship, and I was worried that I would be thrown in at the deep end. However, this internship has been nothing but amazing.”

Wagenfeld started her process development internship with Berd Spokes in December after finding the position on the SciTech job board. Since then she’s helped this MNSBIR-funded, St. Louis Park-based materials company with some crucial redesigning projects. Their goal: to reduce the amount of time required to assemble part of a bicycle spoke (Berd’s primary product) and Wagenfeld, along with her fellow intern Wayde Charging Hawk, are the ones who will make it happen.

“Most of my time is spent mocking up my designs in three-dimensional models using SolidWorks,” she explained. “I also test these designs by printing and assembling the part files, predicting what issues might arise if the assembly was used in an actual manufacturing setting, and tweaking the designs to mitigate these issues.”

In a given day, Wagenfeld may be responsible for a multitude of tasks, anything from designing a new part to building a prototype. Given all that expectation, Wagenfeld remains undaunted and eager to help.

“Alexis has approached each new thing I’ve asked her to do with an open mind and a willingness to learn, and she’s made a great contribution to Berd,” said Allison Horner, Ph.D. and Berd’s CTO. “Initial projections are that Alexis’ sub-assembly will reduce maintenance time and therefore increase machine uptime by 15%, which will dramatically improve our output.”

According to Horner, one of Wagenfeld’s most valuable contributions during her time at Berd comes from her background in Psychology and her ability to take the operating experience into account when designing fabrication processes.

“Any equipment we create must be designed with consideration of the human that will be using it,” Horner explained. “This is by no means a simple concept, and many experienced engineers struggle to understand human/machine interactions. The fact that Alexis is studying both Mechanical Engineering and Psychology, and that at this early stage in her career already appreciates that human motivation and comfort during operation is just as important as using more a powerful pneumatic cylinder or a faster linear actuator, really made her stand out.”

Wagenfeld’s internship will continue on into the spring, giving her time to wrap up her project and learn as much as she can. In anticipation of its end, she said, “I know I’ll leave Berd with not only a deeper understanding of manufacturing process development, but also a much greater confidence in my technical abilities.”

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