May 14, 2008
Cowley College Students Tour Excel Industries, Inc.
Students in Cowley College’s Welding and Non-Destructive
Testing classes recently toured Excel Industries, Inc. in Hesston. The
company builds Hustler lawn mowers and turf equipment.
In 1964 Excel Industries Inc. introduced the Hustler, which was the first front-mount mower with drive-wheel steering. The front-mounted, offset deck and zero-radius turning provided extra mowing and trimming capability not available on any other mower. Within five years this concept was setting the standard for all professional riding mowers.
Welding students from Cowley College’s Mulvane campus toured the facility on May 8, while NDT students from the Arkansas City campus went on the tour on May 9.
The tour consisted of seeing the metal fabrication, welding, paint line, assembly, final testing, quality inspection, and distribution. Excel Industries, Inc. produces close to one million dollars worth of inventory every day.
Brett Butler, instructor in Cowley College’s Career and Technical Education Department, believed the tour hit on a lot of things he teaches in his Industrial Materials and Processes class. Students witnessed CNC laser cutting, robotic welding, and lean manufacturing concepts in action throughout the plant, “It was closely related to the whole semester’s body of work,” Butler said. “The students saw the manufacturing of common every day products that they could relate to.”
Cowley welding students on the tour that were interested in working for the company were invited to apply for a position once their education was complete. The company also gave each participant of the tour a Hustler Mower hat and safety glasses.
“They really rolled out the red carpet for us,” Butler said. “Both sets of students got to see relevant pieces of industry and what they may be working on someday.”