A High School Podium: Fitting the Puzzle Pieces Together


A High School Podium: Fitting the Puzzle Pieces Together

A local St. Louis high school presented us with an interesting challenge. They needed a heavy but movable podium that they could feature at pep rallies and special programs. They also wanted to showcase their school’s initials in the school colors.

The Project: A High School Podium: Fitting the Puzzle Pieces Together

This project required our team to get creative and puzzle together plastic laminate lettering in an eye-catching design that would last. From design to execution, this project had to be precise. Our designers and builders, many of them born-and-raised St. Louisans, were excited to get started.

Must-Haves for this project included:

  • Letters in plastic laminate that matched the school colors.
  • A sturdy but mobile podium.

The Challenges

From a software program to a movable high school podium.

  • The first challenges involved accurately rendering the school letters in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software that could then be converted seamlessly into machine code.
  • Next, our designers focused on the podium itself. It needed to be mobile, but it also needed to be sturdy enough to appear fixed. 
  • Finally, we needed to size all pieces of this project properly so they would fit together, just like puzzle pieces, on the face of the podium.

As we planned this project, we discovered that taking a design from a software program to reality took quite a bit of tinkering. Precision was key.

The Solution

Persistence, persistence, persistence.

Solution 1The solution here was simple: it just took persistence. Tracing out the design in CAD was just the beginning. From there we planned out the best possible way to cut out pieces of each color. Doing it right, however, required some heavy trial and error. Each line had to be precisely drawn for the CNC machine to read it properly and produce a smooth result.

Solution 2Designing the podium to be a solid weight – but mobile – was our next task. To accomplish this, we added hidden wheels on the orator side. That way, all a speaker had to do was tilt the podium back. The weight would shift to the wheels, allowing the piece of furniture to move easily. 

Solution 3:   The solution to our final challenge took, once again, persistence. Getting all of the pieces to fit seamlessly meant that each piece’s cutout program had to be identical. Although it sounds simple, the execution of our plan was actually pretty difficult. When machined from one side of a curve versus the other, a single curve became two separate curves. These lines needed to match up perfectly. Additionally, they needed to be cut with a fine routing bit for precision, which slowed the process in order to not break the bit. Despite these challenges, our engineers got the pieces just right.

The Final Product

Persistence and Precision Paid Off

The podium turned out great and was used in the graduation ceremonies fresh off the line! The laminate pieces of the letters fit together like a glove and produced a flush, multi-colored surface for the whole audience to read.

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