Learning the business

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, Montgomery Messenger

TCU teacher John Head discusses furniture design ideas with his Special Projects Course students. Pictured, clockwise from top right: Dawson Drentlaw, Stuart Schatz, Hayden Arndt, and Head. Not pictured: Riley Bogue. (Lisa Ingebrand Photo)

Four Tri-City United High School students are taking part in a new, after-school class that will have them designing student-friendly furniture for a local company.

The school has partnered with Minnesota Millwork and Fixtures in Lonsdale, which designs and builds furniture for restaurants across the nation, to give students career-related experience.

Students taking the course have all expressed interest in engineering.

"Surprisingly, there's a lot of engineering that goes into furniture making," stated TCU junior Hayden Arndt. "We have to come up with a design, but we need to consider all the possible ways it could be made and decide which is best and most cost effective. It's challenging."

According to Minnesota Millwork's Anna Hoy, the class' assignment is to design and build an upholstered seating project for TCU Schools. 

"The goal is for students to have a functional piece of furniture that suits a purpose in their school--designed by students for students," Hoy explained.

Ian Leighly, a designer and drafter at Minnesota Millwork and Fixtures, and TCU Engineering teacher John Head will be working with the students to guide their designs and product development.

"We've been brainstorming, trying to figure out just want we want to make or improve," explained TCU junior Stuart Schatz. "We've looked at different pieces of furniture throughout the school, photographed them, and then discussed the pros and cons of each piece--that we like about it and what we don't."

Schatz pulled a metal chair with a wooden seat and back rest from a nearby desk as an example.

"This chair is nice, but it's not comfortable, and the back thing doesn't really work or feel the best. We could improve it," he stated.

Of course, the group of young men have let their imaginations run wild and admitted to imagining the ultimate Lay-Z-Boy-style, reclining chair for students and a few other plush items. The divulging of this dreamed-up contraption spurs Head to shake his head and grin.

Read more in the print edition.

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