Whether you’re an avid cyclist or not, most of us have significant memories around riding a bike. Wayde Charging Hawk, a mechanical engineering major at the University of St. Thomas, fondly remembers the times he spent biking with his grandfather. And Allison Horner, the CTO of Berd Spokes, is currently teaching her five-year-old how ride and is looking forward to putting their product on her son’s wheels.

For many, bicycles play a part in the happy and even cherished moments of our lives, and the team at Berd want to ensure that your bike is the best it can be for those important times.

Fundamentally, Berd Spokes is an advanced technology and materials company. Based in Hopkins, Minnesota, their premier product is a hybrid polymer bicycle spoke that’s stronger and less than half the weight of your typical metal spoke. Previously, each unit was hand made one at a time, but Berd recently transitioned to an automated manufacturing process as part of their goal to minimize the time of overall production.

Improving together
Charging Hawk secured a spring internship with Berd Spokes through the SciTech Program and has been fully immersed in the company for the last several weeks. Since he began, he’s already updated a few of their previous mechanism designs in SolidWorks and created new ones of his own. Charging Hawk got the chance to work with Berd’s manufacturing process on day one and he’s currently helping Horner improve their cutting technique to make it easier and more efficient.

“At a small company like this, I can sit him down with the machines so he can experience the process and look for ways to improve it,” Horner said.

In this fast-paced, hands-on environment, Charging Hawk is always learning. One of his favorite takeaways so far was learning how to use a 3D printer for rapid prototyping.

“We moved over from the old rapid prototyping material onto a straight, aluminum block and screwed into that using sliders with less friction that allow for faster movement,” he said. “Now you can visibly see the difference that it makes and how much faster it is. That’s the coolest thing I’ve been working on.”  

The measure of success
Before Charging Hawk came to Berd Spokes, Horner and her team were working toward a goal set by a National Science Foundation project: to come up with a way to cut ten seconds off the manufacturing time of each spoke.

“Wayde is only a fraction of the way through his internship, and the work he’s done has already saved us over 20 seconds,” Horner said proudly. “Wayde is an excellent employee that has the type of curiosity that you need. He’s made significant contributions to the company.”

“It’s been a phenomenal experience and a lot of learning on the fly” said Charging Hawk. “It was exactly what I was looking for.”  

Get involved
“SciTech is an excellent program,” said Horner. “Looking into next semester, I’m excited to post another listing.”

You too can make an impact on a future STEM professional’s life and strengthen your talent pipeline. Start planning your internship today at scitechmn.org. At least 120 wage matches are available on a first come, first hire basis between now and August 2021.

Are you a returning student? The new program year is underway! Reactivate your account and start applying for internships today.​