NMCC Student Makes a Lasting Difference
As a senior enrolled in the Northern Maine Community College Precision Machining Technology program, Brady Hawkins was able to make his final project, a memorable one.
In his last semester, Hawkins worked with Instructor Dean Duplesis on a veteran memorial wall project for the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. Jennifer Pictou, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, had approached Duplesis in December of 2016 with the concept.
“I knew NMCC had an excellent reputation and felt it would be a great place to work with to help us honor our veterans,” said Pictou.
NMCC Precision Machining Technology students use intricate tools and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) programs to manufacture extremely specific objects and parts. Using this technology, Hawkins created a collection of life-sized blue anodized metal eagle feathers that each bears an engraved name of a respected Micmac veteran.
“I have gained a lot of experience from this project,” said Hawkins. “Setting up a new job from start to finish has been very valuable to my education.”
Hawkins utilized CAM software to create images for toolpaths and ran a test batch of a few feather designs. After he received approval, he had the designs digitized then blanked out the pieces, made the fixtures, and the contour. Once the feathers were complete, he engraved the names of each veteran onto the feathers.
Using the element of the eagle feather was especially meaningful to the tribe. Eagles are a very revered symbol of the Micmac belief system. At powwows, eagle feathers adorn the ceremonial staff and some of the regalia. If an eagle feather falls during a ceremonial dance, a special presentation takes place where the eagle feather is gifted to a veteran. In the Micmac culture, there is no higher honor.
Instructor Duplesis often works with businesses to provide his students with experience working on real jobs. Most of the time, however, the work that they do involves creating parts of bigger machines and their work does not get seen beyond the manufacturers they work with. This project was unique in the aspect that the feathers will be on display and very visible to the community at large.
“We are fortunate to have been involved in the Micmac veteran wall project, and it's nice knowing a student's work will be appreciated by many, for years to come,” said Duplesis.
The project is called, “KEPMITE'LMANEJ SMA'KNISK,” which translates to, “Let us honor the soldiers.” The feathers will hang in the tribe’s new community center to honor veterans across all lines of service. The project was partially funded by the Institute of Museums and Library Services Grant as well as a grant from the Maine Communities Foundation.
Hawkins graduated from NMCC on May 13. He now works for Alexander’s Mechanical Solutions in Greenfield, Maine as a programmer/machinist.
To learn more about Northern Maine Community College’s Precision Machining Technology program, visit the College online at nmcc.edu.
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