Four Welding students posing with rocket stove projects

HERKIMER – For their rocket stove projects, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Welding program seniors did everything from building them to pricing and marketing them, before presenting them to judges for an in-school competition.

“This is a culminating project for students because it combines many aspects of what they have learned not only during Welding class but also from their Career and Technical Education academic classes,” Herkimer BOCES Welding instructor Mason Fisher said. “Many students hope to operate their own welding businesses, so learning how to price, market and speak about items they’ve welded is very valuable for them.”

Rocket stoves are made out of metal with mesh at the bottom and can be filled with flammable items such as sticks, cardboard, sawdust and pellets. Air flows in from the side and helps create a flame that goes out of the top. They can be used in various ways such as for staying warm or cooking, and they’re fuel efficient, Fisher said.

After Welding students built the rocket stoves, priced them and planned the marketing, they presented to judges on Wednesday, June 8, for a welding trade show in the lobby of the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.

The following Welding students won the trade show competition:

  • First place: Cael Wellenstein
  • Second place: Ian Amendolare
  • Third place (tie): Alfonse Nitti and Gavin Maine

The judges for the welding trade show were School to Careers liaison and work-based learning coordinator MaryBeth Napolitano, STC school counselor Rebecca Roberts, Outdoor Power Equipment instructor Jesse Marosek, Conservation instructor William Carpenter, Advanced Manufacturing instructor Peter Stone and CTE special education teacher Kelly Cave.

Students were judged on their creativity and marketability for their product name, logo and slogan; on the quality of their advertising based on how creative, clear and professional-looking it was; how well they could explain and defend the price they set for their products; on their rocket stove design features such as what makes their design special and how well does it work, and on their public speaking skills and the enthusiasm conveyed in their sales pitch.

From a welding standpoint, students used blueprints, had to design and draw to scale, and worked on proper heat transfer during the welding process – including incorporating dissimilar metals, Fisher said. Students also were able to use a computer numerical control (CNC) plasma table to cut custom parts or logos for their rocket stoves, he said.

Fisher started a version of the rocket stove project three years ago, wasn’t able to continue it two years ago due to COVID-19, but brought it back last year and continued it this year. Starting last year, the project expanded through Fisher collaborating with Career and Technical Education academic teachers on the pricing and marketing aspects. Setting the right price for the products involves factoring in the cost of materials and the value of your skills and time, Fisher said.

CTE English teacher Sarah Crowe talked to the students about marketing, coming up with slogans, how to explain to potential customers why their product is worth buying and how to present their projects for the judges.

“The trade show competition is great practice for the students with public speaking and being able to explain to customers how they can benefit from their products,” Crowe said. “Students did an excellent job presenting to the judges, and the judges were impressed with the products that students created.”

Four Welding students posing with rocket stove projects

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Welding program seniors who placed in a welding competition pose with their rocket stove projects on Wednesday, June 8, in the lobby of the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. From left: Cael Wellenstein (first place), Ian Amendolare (second place) and Alfonse Nitti and Gavin Maine (tied for third place).