Manufacturing Day offers career exploration opportunity

TRAVERSE CITY —  Eight local manufacturers will open their doors to 250 area high school students Oct. 3, as Traverse City marks Manufacturing Day for the first time.

Manufacturing Day is an annual national event designed to showcase the career opportunities modern manufacturing technology offers. Northwestern Michigan College is coordinating the local event in and around its Aero Park campus.

Students from Traverse City West, Traverse City Central, Traverse City High, the Manufacturing Technology Academy and TBAISD Career Tech Center will begin the day at NMC’s Parsons-Stulen Building. After brief opening remarks they will depart in groups to tour the participating site manufacturers, all neighbors to the Aero Park campus: Boride Engineered Abrasives, Clark Manufacturing, Kennametal, National Vacuum Equipment, R.M. Young Company, SMI Auto, Tool North and TranTek.

"There's a wide variety of manufacturing across that gambit. I'm happy to see so many open up their doors on that day for students to take a look and see what's done in northern Michigan," said Cameron Fuller, vice president of Clark Manufacturing.

Clark hired 12 new machinists just this year. They joined a staff of more than 100. The company is a “job shop” that machines parts, primarily for energy sector customers. Fuller hopes the event retools the image of manufacturing in the minds of students and their parents.

"These are good-paying careers, right here locally,” he said.

Besides a less than ideal image, the manufacturing industry is also confronting an aging workforce and a skills gap in those who might seek to fill positions.

NMC is working to help fill this skills gap with events like Manufacturing Day as well as programs like Century University, a collaborative, on-the-job training program designed by NMC’s Training Services and Century Inc. for Century employees.

Established in 2012, Manufacturing Day seeks to expand knowledge about and improve the general public’s perception of manufacturing careers and the industry’s value to the U.S. economy. The Traverse City event is one of more than 1,100 planned around the nation.

Other sponsors are the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, Newton’s Road, an initiative of the regional Council of Governments that promotes STEM education, BATA, TCAPS, TBAISD and MTA. 

Release date: September 25, 2014