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Mechatronica: stimulate local youths


Develop your pool of potential employees, stimulate local youths

The right person in the right place. A nice expression but as far as employees go, this is often easier said than done. Mechanisation companies such as potato harvester manufacturer AVR must often go in search of very specific – and therefore rare – technical profiles. That is why the growth company is now taking the bull by the horns by entering into a partnership with the Vives College from Ostend. Together they have launched the Mechatronics project with the aim of motivating young people to pursue a STEM education. One of the subprojects seeks to inspire young people in Lichtervelde through a company visit to AVR. With the end of the academic year fast approaching, this is the perfect time to introduce pupils to future jobs in the technical sector.

Mechatronics project

The Mechatronics project wants to boost young people’s interest in science and technology. Pupils from the first stage of secondary school get to work with Lego Mindstorm kits in their technology classes. Equipped with engines, sensors, a control unit and LEGO building blocks, the kits are used to teach the pupils how to build and program a steerable robot. As a partner in the project, AVR helps provide the pupils with these kits. The final event with the ‘Build your own avatar’-competition and the award ceremony hosted by stand-up comedian William Boeva took place on 20 May.

AVR Managing Director Stefan Top explains:

“As a pioneering company we like to stimulate local youths to pursue a technical education. This project is an opportunity to make an active contribution towards solving the image problem the technological sector is currently facing. We hope it will enable us to ensure a continuous inflow of young talent eager to contribute to the ongoing development of potato harvesting mechanisation”.
“I think an interactive company visit offers the perfect platform to show youngsters what a technical education will allow them to do. Not only do they get to see the technological realisations but they are also introduced to a wide range of professions in the sector. Rousing the enthusiasm of local secondary school pupils today is an effective way of building tomorrow’s employee potential”

Technology is more than just engineering


Technology and innovation are the motors of progress. For instance, by 2050 we need to boost our total food production capacity by 60% (CEMA Secretary General Ulrich Adam in De Loonwerker magazine, March 2015). This challenges agricultural machine manufacturers such as AVR to come up with even smarter machines that improve the farmer’s working conditions while lowering his input (fuel, time, …).
That is why we need young and effervescent minds to help devise new solutions and innovate existing products. To steer young talent in the right direction, it is important to show them the boundless opportunities a technical education creates. The Mechatronics project is perfect in this regard.


Wanted: colleagues with a passion for technology and... potatoes


Popular profiles in the metal industry include R&D engineers, R&D technicians, service technicians and welders, and as it happens, these profiles are really hard to find. These professions all require the same passion for technology. Unfortunately, technology suffers from an image problem among young people: often heard remarks include ‘you have to get your hands dirty’, ‘it’s not for girls’ and ‘technology is boring’ but manufacturers such as AVR Tools are an entirely different proposition.

Both for workers and employees, the challenges associated with technical profiles range from the development of software-based, hydraulic and electrical machine control systems to building prototypes, tuning machines in the field and being able to explain their operation to the customer.

Machines designed and manufactured in Roeselare are delivered to potato growers worldwide. Even countries such as Canada, South Africa and Japan use potato harvesters. The global character of our business is exactly why technical staff can also put additional skills to good use such as foreign languages, autonomy, creativity and a hands-on attitude.

A testimonial by R&D staff member Ms. Joke Cambie:

“Early on in my master’s degree in Electromechanics it became clear that I had a passion for automation. Evidently this is not an obvious choice for a woman because there were only a few of us. As a farmer’s daughter I took in the passion for technology and tools with my mother’s milk, so naturally when I graduated I wanted to work for a company like AVR because it combined all of my passions. For instance, I’ve already travelled to Australia for my job, a very instructive trip.”

Lichtervelde youths get a taste of a manufacturing company

In April, the first-year pupils from the secondary school in Lichtervelde got to take in the atmosphere at AVR, an all-Flemish production company that develops and manufactures machinery for potato cultivation. Following a brief overview of the various steps in the manufacturing process, the youngsters went on an interactive tour of the plant: handling a 3D Faro meter, watching machines in operation from up close, programming a CNC machine… Who said that technology can’t be fun?

Download pictures here.