Student design teams depend heavily on off-campus sources for money and material. Sponsors don’t just write a check or drop inner tubes in the mail, they remain extremely interested in what goes on year-round. The continued excellence (and sometimes heroic attempts to stave off disaster) of these design/build crews creates thrilling engineering/athletic drama, ripe for consumption by a tech-crazy nation.
Students often brag about the support that comes from individuals and commercial firms alike. As recipients of the largesse they SHOULD be excited, because little gets done without outside help. They also know they’ve made a good impression when sponsors start bragging about their association with S&T teams.
A few years back teams got an unexpected best life lessons from Coastal Enterprises, a California-based manufacturer of high-dollar tooling foam. A few years ago students reached out to Coastal for material donations, and were told “yes, we’ll help, but it comes with strings attached.”
Paraphrasing company owner Chuck Miller, “I didn’t build this company by myself, I had lots of help along the way. If you want our support you must agree that, when you are in a position to help others, you do so.” The Miners immediately honored the contract by sharing the goods with other S&T teams, and handing some off to up-and-coming teams from other universities. In doing so they learned that value comes in many forms; personal relationships, generosity, integrity, respect and character in business as in life. And that karma is real.
It’s Coastal that’s thrilled to be a part of S&T’s experiential learning programs. Chuck touts their association with our design teams, follows our adventures, and even drops in to see Miner teams (i.e., Solar House) that don’t use their products.
In their social media posts Coastal advances their code of business ethics through the connection with student design groups. In doing so they ensure that future generations of engineers will give back to Coastal by following Chuck’s example. And that, dear readers, is Karma.
p.s. Pick up the phone and call Chuck sometime. His entire crew is a blast to talk to, a sure sign of a great place to work.