Students Explore Careers on Macomb County Manufacturing Day

Kids get a closer look at what technicians, engineers, toolmakers and other manufacturing pros do on Macomb County Manufacturing Day on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.

Dirty, low paying and male dominated. If these are some of the things that come to mind when you think of manufacturing jobs, you’ve got it all wrong.

“This is not your grandfather’s shop,” says Jodi Kade, the human resources coordinate at Paslin, an innovator in assembly and welding automation systems located in Warren. Today’s manufacturing jobs occur in high-tech facilities – and they are not only high paying, but also high in demand.

Paslin is among 72 local businesses that will act as host sites and welcome students to tour their facilities during Macomb County Manufacturing Day, also known as MFG Day. This local installment of this international career exploration day – presented by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and the Macomb Intermediate School District – takes place on Friday Oct. 5, 2018.

Local companies work together with the school districts to help dispel myths related to the manufacturing industry while giving Macomb County public school students a chance to explore a variety of career paths at companies that are located close to home.

“Students know about these companies, but they have never actually been inside,” says Shannon Williams, a career and technical education consultant with the MISD. Through the Macomb County Manufacturing Day, they are “able to pull back the curtain and say, ‘This is what goes on here.'”

All 21 school districts in Macomb County will participate in MFG Day this year, which is expected to attract 2,400 students, Williams notes.

It’s the perfect way to introduce teens to different career paths with plenty of potential.

“It’s a great time to get into manufacturing, since a lot of the workforce is reaching retirement age and there’s a gap,” Kade says. Because of a larger push for college education over the last decade or so, there’s a shortage of skilled trades.

The tours

From Futuramic, which is a contractor to NASA, to Cosworth, the maker of race car engines that just opened their first North American headquarters in Macomb County, to PTI Engineered Products, a fully integrated maker of plastics for the medical, automotive, defense and consumer markets, and more, local companies invite students to participate in two-hour tours of their buildings. Think of it as a close-to-home school field trip focused on manufacturing careers.

Each tour begins with a company overview, which features information on what jobs the host site offers and what to expect during the walk-through.

During the tours, students encounter mechatronic technicians, mechanical engineers, toolmakers, machine maintenance technicians, software engineers, system engineers and more, Williams says.

By seeing these workers in action, students are able to get a better understanding of what each job entails. And some might even be able to participate in some hands-on activities – just like 17-year-old Jesse Lange, a senior at Dakota High School, did during MFG Day.

“I got to show off my soldering skills and have packaging competitions with my friends,” Jesse says. “My research-and-design class is going again this year, and I’m really excited to have more hands-on experience in the engineering field and see what kind of job I might have in the future.”

In addition to watching and taking part in the action, students also learn more about what each career needs in terms of degrees and on-the-job training. Many even cultivate relationships with the businesses they visit – returning the following year for that on-the-job training.

Student feedback

Jack Dygert, a senior at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center, has always known he wanted a hands-on career, but he wasn’t sure exactly which path he wanted to take – until he participated in Manufacturing Day. Today, the 17-year-old knows that he wants to become a mechanical engineer.

“I got to see a little bit of what the industry is about in a way,” Jack says of the Macomb County Manufacturing Day. “It’s helped me figure out a lot.”

It was a way to see how a real factory worked and talk to engineers in the field, Jesse adds.

“MFG Day showed me that there are countless engineering disciplines that I never even knew about,” Jesse says. “Because of this, I looked past the engineering specialty I was focused on and found computer science engineering, which is now what I want to major in when I go to college next year.”

See MFG Day in action

Check out the video below to discover details about the Manufacture Your Future MFG Day:

For more information on MFG Day, visit the Manufacture My Future website.

To get additional details about Macomb County, visit the Make Macomb Your Home website.

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