Trip of a Lifetime for IOF Winner

Each year, our Mastercam Innovator of the Future competition challenges students to design and machine a specified part for a guest judge in the manufacturing industry. The winner of the competition receives a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to the guest judge’s facility for a tour.
This year, the competition challenged students to create a bridge and saddle for Taylor Guitars. We recently had the pleasure of showing the winner, Zachary Roy, and his instructor, David Langdon, of E.C. Goodwin Technical High School in New Britain, CT around southern California.

After a long day of flying, we picked Zack and Mr. Langdon up from the airport and took them to check in at our hotel in downtown San Diego. The next morning, we traveled to the Taylor Guitars headquarters and factory in El Cajon.

There, our group was greeted by Larry Breedlove, Chief Engineer of Product Development, who gave us an in-depth tour of the factory as well as the prototype shop. Throughout the tour, Larry talked a lot about methods and tools that are particular to Taylor and come as a result of constant innovation. These range from their side benders that are porcelain-coated cast iron – inspired by Bob’s favorite cooking pans – down to clamps designed in-house that are superior to the old methods of using binder clips or clothes pins.

Larry also showed us the guitar he had pinned Zack’s bridge to to show Zack how it looks on a guitar. After the tour, we did the awards ceremony, presenting Zack his scholarship check for $1,000 before heading off to lunch with Larry and Chalise Zolezzi, the Communications Manager at Taylor Guitars.

Larry and Zack with a guitar featuring Zack’s bridge.

After lunch, we took Zack and his instructor to HRE Performance Wheels in Vista. HRE President, Alan Peltier, who was originally hired as an engineer and worked up the ranks, showed us around their facility. Once we had seen the whole facility, Operations Manager, Roy Epperson, showed Zack and his instructor some of their Mastercam files and talked about their approaches to machining.

Alan showing Zack a part of a wheel fresh off the machine.

Roy showing files to Zack and his instructor.
On our way back to San Diego via scenic Highway 101, we stopped by the beach so that Zack, who had never been to California before, could be sure to put his toes in the sand.

Everyone was really impressed by the Taylor and HRE operations as well as the amount of time they devoted to making this trip special for Zack and inspiring just one student. It’s really wonderful to spend time with these people who not only are masters in their respective crafts but also are so nice. We truly appreciate everything they did.

It was really fun to get to know Zack and Mr. Langdon and we look forward to staying in touch.
For more information on the Innovator of the Future competition and Zack’s winning bridge, go to

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