Kids discover new range of career options during Manufacturing DayOctober 6, 2017
To some people, manufacturing still invokes images of dusty floors and greasy machinery.
But local students spent the day Friday learning that nowadays, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Friday was national Manufacturing Day, where kids from the local to national level took field trips to manufacturing companies to get a peek at what they do.
As many students learned, manufacturing is “a big word,” said Danny Camp, an eighth-grader at Stanton Middle School in Kent.
“There’s a lot more than just a few things in manufacturing,” added his classmate, 13-year-old Andrew Sawyer.
Stanton middle schoolers were just some of the local students who took trips to companies. Akron Public Schools kids headed over to SGS Tool in Cuyahoga Falls, while Stow and Kent students went to Anderson International, a processing technology manufacturer, and NMG Aerospace, an aerospace and defense manufacturing company, both in Stow. A group of Barberton High School students visited PPG’s Barberton plant.
Students from Stanton Middle School in Kent divided into three groups to visit Kent Adhesive Products Co. (KAPCO), along with Kent Displays and AlphaMicron, two companies that specialize in liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
At the facilities, many kids found the dirty machinery in their imaginations was replaced by bubbling test tubes, clean floors and high-tech equipment.
During the tour at AlphaMicron, CEO Bahman Taheri demonstrated the color-changing glass that the company is working on. With a single spoken command, he could change the glass from blue to green to orange in seconds. The crowd broke out in “oohs” of amazement.
“What you’re seeing now is what we think you’ll be seeing in 20 years,” Taheri said to his young audience. “The world is changing from when we were younger. Things are becoming autonomous.”
Range of opportunities
Area leaders have doubled down on their efforts in the past few years to expose kids to the wide range of careers that manufacturing has to offer, from engineers and scientists to designers and HR reps.
At the forefront of that effort is the Manufacturing Network, a group of manufacturing stakeholders within ConxusNEO (formerly Summit Workforce Solutions), an Akron nonprofit that aims to help workers gain the skills employers are seeking.
Jenny Stupica, the director of manufacturing engagement at ConxusNEO, said the Manufacturing Network formed in 2015 after a national study found that more people are retiring from the field than entering it.
Although the beginning of the millennium saw a steep decline in manufacturing jobs, there are still millions of people in positions that aren’t being replaced. The study, conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and the professional services organization Deloitte, found there will be 3.5 million manufacturing jobs available in the United States in the next 10 years.
“We’re in jeopardy of almost 2 million going unfilled,” Stupica added.
Since it formed, the network has worked with local educators and companies to raise awareness about opportunities in the area while helping businesses find viable employees.
For many of the companies, showing kids around the facilities Friday was mutually beneficial.
“It’s an opportunity for us as well,” said Elie Merheb, the president of KAPCO. “I think manufacturing has made a comeback in the U.S. … but it’s a challenge to find young people interested in manufacturing.”
Kent Superintendent George Joseph said he worked with Kent Displays CEO Albert Green to expand the Stanton Middle School Manufacturing Day program from one participating company last year to three this year.
Joseph said he sees manufacturing not only as a career opportunity, but also an opportunity to make money before going into college.
“I think with manufacturing, people have a misunderstanding of the way it used to be. It is a very clean industry,” Joseph said. “With the cost of education, especially higher education, it’s really a benefit for kids to consider all their options.”
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Cottom, Theresa. (2017, October 6). Kids discover new range of career options during Manufacturing Day. Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ohio.com/akron/business/kids-exposed-to-new-range-of-career-options-during-manufacturing-day