Small firm gives student rich co-op experience

Mar 20, 2014

William Daskam has a variety of roles at Evatech but his primary responsibility is to design and manufacture parts for robotic lawnmowers.

William Daskam took a different route when pursuing a co-op placement. Rather than working for a large multi-national corporation, Daskam sought out a small boutique engineering firm that caters to his interests and maximizes the experiences that he’s able to gain.

Daskam, a Mechanical Engineering major at Kettering, is completing his co-op at Evatech, an engineering firm in Tarpon Springs, Fla., founded in 2003 and specializing in robotic lawnmowers.

“I’m most definitely enjoying my co-op experience, mainly because it’s such a small company,” Daskam said. “At a time, or on most days, there are only three people there – my boss, myself and a welder. The high school interns join us in the afternoon.”

Daskam has a variety of roles at Evatech but his primary responsibility is to design and manufacture parts for robotic lawnmowers. The lawnmowers are designed and built for residential and commercial uses. The lawnmowers are controlled by a remote control and don’t resemble any lawnmower you would see in a department store. The orange frames are held up on large rugged tires and the motor and sensors are exposed on top, resembling a futuristic automated device.

“Our robotic lawnmowers, a lot of people think they are completely autonomous but they aren’t,” Daskam said. “They are remote controlled and there are a lot of variables in their design. Some designs can cut slopes on the side of a highway. They’re designed for going up and down these slopes without having someone riding a tractor or using a Weed Whacker.”

Daskam specifically modifies individual parts of lawnmowers. His most recent project involves modifying and customizing the diameter and radius of sprockets, the teeth-like part that allows the wheels and tracks of the lawnmower to turn. Daskam has also been customizing jigs to streamline and hasten the manufacturing process.

Daskam became interested in the design and engineering of robots when he joined the First Robotics program at the Engineering Academy at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs. Paul Wahnish, director of the engineering academy and the robotics team, is also a recruiter for Kettering and steered Daskam towards the university based on his skills and interest in engineering.

The engineering academy prepares students for a post-secondary STEM education by offering classes in computer integrated manufacturing, digital electronics, aerospace engineering, biotech engineering, civil engineering architecture and engineering design and development.

“I found out about the Kettering co-op program and I was all for it because I was told that experience is everything,” Daskam said.

Although he finds it challenging at times, Daskam enjoys the transition between work and school and observes positives and negatives in both terms. Since he is able to live at home during his co-op term, Michigan is the only other place that Daskam has spent a significant amount of time and it’s allowed him to warm up to the changing of the seasons.

“I like seeing the seasons,” Daskam said. “You don’t really see the seasons in Florida. You don’t see the leaves change and you don’t see the snow.”