Tri-Cycle Advantage: RIT Students, Magnum Shielding Corp. and Harley Davidson

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Good things DO come in threes. Take Rochester Institute of Technology, Magnum Shielding Corp. and Harley Davidson, for example.

Magnum Shielding, a Pittsford-based manufacturing company and major supplier to Harley-Davidson, sent a business proposal to be considered for RIT’s Capstone Project. Last fall, three ambitious consultants from RIT’s College of Business Executive MBA program (EMBA) agreed to spend 20-weeks on the job to analyze company data and formulate business strategies and applications. They completed their assessment in mid-May.

Simultaneously, Magnum Shielding and Harley-Davidson became a project for a multidisciplinary senior design team of 10 students from RIT’s College of Engineering. The students acquired two stock Harley-Davidson 883C Sportsters—and utilizing custom-parts from Magnum Shielding—converted them into aesthetically “cool and hip” motorcycles with all the latest bells and whistles for special effects. Not only that, one of the team members was hired as a design engineer at the manufacturing company.

In reality-speak, RIT’s apprenticeship programs have trumped “The Donald.”

“We see the ‘Capstone Projects’ as both a service to Rochester’s business community and an opportunity for our Executive MBA candidates to demonstrate their expertise,” says Robert Boehner, RIT’s distinguished lecturer in marketing who spearheaded the program.

“Our apprentices, many of whom are busy professionals with demanding jobs, undergo two demanding years of course work before they work with a corporate client on real-world problems,” Boehner notes.

Magnum Shielding president, Scott Hurwitz, showers accolades on Capstone’s aspiring executives, “finding their presentations and viewpoints very refreshing.”

“Our company was founded in 1982, and it’s easy to become encapsulated in your own fishbowl comprised of the same markets, products, vendors and consumers,” Hurwitz explains. “It’s wonderful to see three minds assess our company and understand our specific niche in this competitive marketplace—from products, branding and manufacturing timetables, to sales and distribution.”

The manufacturing company’s “niche” is their patented process, Sterling Chromite, the first coating of its kind to emulate the look of chrome on each individual wire to create braided sheathing enhancements that look chrome-plated.

“For Harley-Davidson enthusiasts who don’t flinch when dropping big dollars for their motorcycles, everything is about image and having the newest designer look,” says Hurwitz. “Sterling Chromite is far superior to using stainless steel because it’s much brighter, never discolors or tarnishes, and matches perfectly the rest of the chrome on the motorcycle.”

Associate Professor James Taylor of the industrial and systems engineering department at RIT, decided the “art of motorcycle maintenance” was a smart project for the senior design course.

“Our objective was to take the least expensive Harley-Davidson model, worth about $6,500, and create a customization kit for dealerships to sell to customers interested in enhancing their motorcycle-design at lower cost,” says Taylor. “Our design apprentices not only created a saleable product, we also won ‘Best in Show’ for our float at RIT’s 175th anniversary parade. The College of Engineering has turned into a big wheel.”