No, I am not writing about the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Federal Receiver appointed to oversee the medical conditions within the CDCR. I am writing about the collaboration between San Quentin’s Vocational Machine Shop and the Marine Mammal Center (MMC), a non-profit organization located in the Marin Headlands. In 2004, these two organizations began a collaboration to help the students of the Vocational Machine Shop and the Vocational Sheet Metal Shop gain real world experience while helping the MMC to rescue, rehabilitate back to health, and then release marine mammals to their freedom.
The collaboration between the two organizations has been mutually beneficial. The MMC has been able to have three seal carriers manufactured and a couple of seal carriers repaired. Leonard Rubio, the leadsman in the Vocational Machine Shop, re-engineered the seal carrier to create an improved design utilizing Autodesk Inventor Professional 9 computer-aided design software that was donated by Autodesk, Inc., a software company located nearby in San Rafael. The MMC donated a new Gas Tungsten Arc Welder (aka: TIG and Heliarc) to the Vocational Machine Shop as well as all of the materials required to manufacture and repair the various projects.
In addition to the donated welder, the Vocational Machine Shop has had a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community while gaining experience with a “real world” project. There has also been great pride in knowing that we were manufacturing something to help another life gain it’s freedom from captivity!
This past year the Vocational Machine Shop delivered a repaired “Seals-On-Wheels” carrier to the MMC. This carrier is utilized to move seals and young sea lions that are being rehabilitated at the MMC in the Marin Headlands. The carrier was almost completely rebuilt due to its original construction from mild steel that deteriorated from corrosion caused by salt water. The carrier was rebuilt using stainless steel and aluminum that are more resistant to corrosion from exposure to salt water.
BUILDING THE CAGE
The rebuild consisted of reverse engineering most of the carrier, redesigning the doors, disassembly of the carrier, creating a new parts list for the MMC to purchase all of the necessary materials for the rebuild, receiving the purchased materials from the MMC, manufacturing the new Sheet metal doors, gas tungsten arc welding various parts of the carrier, and reassembly of the carrier.
The carrier was rebuilt through the efforts of students in both the Vocational Machine Shop and the Vocational Sheet Metal Shop.
William Branson, Robert Markrell, Jeff Langnese and Leonard Rubio were the students that manufactured the project within the Vocational Machine Shop.
Hector Oropeza, Noel Valdivia, Felix Lucero, and Bert Boatman were the students that completed all of the Sheet metal forming of the project within the Vocational Sheet Metal Shop.
The “Seals-On-Wheels” carrier was the second carrier repaired for the MMC. Three other brand new carriers have been manufactured for, and delivered to, the MMC between 2005 and 2007.
The MMC has been so pleased with the quality of workmanship that they requested that the Vocational Machine Shop design and manufacture a larger carrier for transporting and rehabilitating mature (large) sea lions. Leonard Rubio is working on the design for the sea lion carrier as well as developing prints for the manufacture of a net for rescuing injured seals.
The partnership between the two organizations has been wonderful. On March 10, 2009, the Marine Mammal Center had a group of its employees and volunteers come out to San Quentin for a visit and tour.