Our sixth group of apprentices are finishing up their six-month stay here at CAT. Kaylyn and Laura are just about done with their Long Hauls and a great new jig for the Human Powered Network.
“This apprenticeship is more than just a straightforward course in building a cargo bike from pieces of metal. The knowledge and skills that you get out of this program range from the tangible to the personal and philosophical. Welding, machining, brazing, CAD, and industrial sewing are a large and important part of the learning and fabrication process, but here at CAT we also spend time considering the dangerously unsustainable realities and implications of modern manufacturing practices and how they could be restructured. Together we can build a resilient, decentralized network of local cargo bike manufacturers, and sharing knowledge and productive cooperation are vital components to making that a successful endeavor. They also take just as much patience, attention to detail, and consideration as precision machining or design.
Another important facet of what I have gained in my time here is learning how to deal with the actual situation on the ground, which entails doing as much as you can with what you have. Fixing and building tools for fabrication has been a significant, and possibly the most practical and versatile, portion of what I have learned here.
I think that this apprenticeship is one of the most important things I have ever done or been a part of and I hope to move forward from here with the support of the Human Powered Network to build and spread the goodness that are cargo bikes.”
“If I had to list my most life-changing, mind blowing learning experiences, my time as an apprentice at CAT comes out among the top few. I began these five months expecting to learn to build cargo bikes, and have had those expectations filled and exceeded over, and over, and over again. Working with the instructors at CAT, I have felt both supported in learning at my own pace, and challenged to push my own boundaries. I have had to wrap my head around ideas that at first glance seemed uncomfortable or impractical, but in digging more deeply, made sense in ways that I hadn’t yet considered.
Through designing and building a new fixture for the Long Haul, I have realized the significance of creating appropriate tools. This idea is relevant on both a physical, mechanical level, and in a more metaphorical sense. This program is in itself an example of an appropriate tool- a tool for passing along the skills of a trade, as well as the history and considerations that go along with those skills. The apprenticeship model at CAT is one that I dream of seeing spread to all trades and professions, and made accessible to anyone with the drive to work and learn.
The people at CAT have fostered my growth as a designer and fabricator, and equally important, as a communicator and collaborator. The relationships I have built here are a solid foundation that I know I can rely on as I move forward into further bike building adventures. I am incredibly, overwhelmingly grateful.”