East Jordan High school junior Aaron Nachazel designs unique bike repair device in Career Tech CAD class
Mike Cortright needed a device to help him service mountain bike shocks at his Boyne City business, North Country Cycle Sport. Commercial devices cost upwards of $1,000 or more, and Cortright was looking for a less-expensive option.
He contacted a friend at Classic Instruments, Devin Butterbrodt, knowing the company’s engineers and manufacturers are brilliant at developing devices, even those not specific to their classic car business in Boyne City.
With the project in mind, Devin approached fellow Rotary Club member Liz Nachazel with the idea that her son, Aaron, might be able to design the device. Aaron is a junior in the Computer Aided Design class at East Jordan High School, a Career and Technical Education program offered in 9-12th grades.
Once Liz and Devin started talking, Liz knew Aaron would be perfect for the job of designing a device like Cortright needed, based on the skills he has learned in his class under instructor John Cross. The CAD class has helped Aaron develop his skills over the past three years, and he was excited about taking on a project with real-world application.
“I used 2D and 3D software to create the design for Shock Squash 1.0,” said Aaron, 16, who is interested in pursuing an engineering career after graduation next year. “We have the necessary software programs in class, so I was able to use what I learned at school and work on the designs over the summer last year at Classic Instruments.”
After researching existing models and putting together the necessary dimensions for fabrication – about 20 hours of time – Aaron’s version was streamlined and therefore, more cost-effective. After the CAD drawings were completed, Classic Instruments used them to fabricate the Shock Squash, which presses a bike shock down with enough force so that it can be properly repaired.
Cortright is thrilled to have such a useful tool in his shop for making repairs. It’s not a process that can be done by hand, because of the force required to adequately compress the shock. The Shock Squash allows him to make repairs and retest the shock before putting it back on the mountain bike – saving steps and ensuring the shocks are functioning at their optimum capacity.
“It’s helped me so much in my business. It’s really an awesome device. And it’s been great to be part of this collaborative effort that involved a student utilizing his skills from the classroom to make a product that is really useful in the real world,” said Cortright.
Butterbrodt said Classic Instruments was likewise pleased to work with a student and a local business. “We knew this would be a perfect high school CAD project,” he said. “It involved all sorts of collaboration, and we are glad to play a role.”
Once it was delivered, Aaron paid a visit to Cortright’s shop to see the device in action. “I couldn’t believe I designed it,” he said. “It looked too professional almost for a 16-year-old to have designed it!”
His teacher, John Cross, however, was not surprised. He describes Aaron as an exceptional student and one interested in learning new skills. “It’s few and far between to have a project like this by a student,” he said. “Aaron has outstanding skills and works really well independently and with others. He’s a great problem solver with a great work ethic.”
“I’m definitely pushing that we need more involvement with the workforce and real-world applications, like this, in our classes,” Cross said.
The Shock Squash earned Aaron a second-place award at the annual MITES competition for career tech projects, during the state-wide event held recently in Bellaire. He will next put his skills to work during his senior year, having landed a Career Internship at EJ working with the company’s design/engineering department – offering him even more real-world experience in his field of interest.
As for the fun and unique name, Shock Squash? Aaron said he couldn’t take full credit for that. “My dad is pretty creative at that kind of thing,” he added.