Students’ laser handiwork on display at cookoff
Alongside 29 contestants in the People's Choice portion of this weekend's Brew, Blues & Bar-B-Q Cook-Off, Lansing High's woodworking students will unveil their own homemade creation.
Or perhaps "schoolmade."
Armed with a sophisticated laser engraver that instructor Aaron Wecas recently acquired, the students created 29 cutting boards for the City of Lansing, each engraved with the Brew, Blues & Bar-B-Q logo.
The woodworking crew received the project when Lorraine Gluch, an organizer of the event, called Wecas to inquire about the possibility.
"I said, I don't know if you're going to be interested in doing this but we're doing a barbeque and we're going to need cutting boards for our People's Choice event," Gluch said.
Though making almost 30 of the boards was no small task, Wecas issued the challenge to his students. They delivered, and decided to use the new laser to add a finishing touch to each board. Gluch was thrilled by the product.
"They engraved our logo on the cutting boards and they did a great job," she said. "They are actually going to carve the meat on the cutting boards."
But though the handiwork of the class will get a citywide audience this weekend, it will not be the students' debut. They have been creating most of the school's awards since the laser has been up and running. So far, the class has engraved plaques, medals, trophies and even the occasional football.
By pairing the laser with a computer graphics program, the class can etch pictures and words onto just about anything that will fit underneath the laser.
The applications that the class has found for the laser have earned it even national attention from the company that manufactures the machine. Wecas' woodworking class is now listed as a success story on the Epilog Web site.
Occasionally, the class even gets questions from other laser engravers.
"I got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago from a man from Canada who wanted to know how we fit a football in ours," Wecas said.
Now that the class has nearly mastered the creation of awards with the laser, Wecas intends to continue to serve the community.
"We're always looking for things to do," Wecas said. "I like the idea of being able to give back a little."
Giving back also allows Wecas to bring the real world a little closer to the nearly 100 woodworking students at LHS.
"In school you go class to class, back to back," he said. "But when you get a thirty-piece cutting board order it's a little more realistic."
"I think what the kids get out of it is that they can see the application after high school."
The class may soon get some firsthand experience with the demand for free engraving after their exposure at the Brew, Blues and Bar-B-Q event, but Wecas looks forward to receiving new challenges. The students can cope with the burden and any challenges the projects present.
Like surviving the aroma of etching a football with a laser.
"It smells like burnt bacon," Wecas said.