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National Manufacturing Day 2017 – A Local Success!

Headshot Betsy WilliamsBy: Betsy Williams, NMC Training Specialist

The first Friday of October is National Manufacturing Day which is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Over the past four years, it has become a day Training Services of Northwestern Michigan College is proud to participate in and coordinate. We look forward to having a day to showcase the variety of local manufacturers and celebrate the great things made here. It is a mission we take very seriously and carry out all year long, but to have a specific day to observe is the icing on the cake.

This year 33 local manufacturers opened their doors for tours which included 16 schools and over 500 students. Twenty-nine volunteer tour guides gave their time and talent to share their personal stories of the region’s asset of manufacturing. To give you a perspective of the impact of the day, nationally there were 2,842 manufacturing sites and 269 in Michigan. Mike Coast, President, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center stated, “Michigan again leads the nation with 269 manufacturing events statewide. We have a very conservative estimate that 11,530 students attended those events - based on the input from our statewide system. The small- to medium-sized manufacturers in Michigan are extraordinary. Manufacturing Day in Michigan has taken on a life of its own!”

A big thank you to our local manufacturing community for collaborating, supporting, and showcasing the strength of our region. It’s a natural for us as Traverse City is the birthplace of Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machinery. As a matter of fact, John Parsons and Frank Stulen were recognized for their outstanding accomplishment by the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation in 1985. They were in good company as that is the same year Apple Computer was recognized. (See photo and linked information in newsletter.)

This is the fourth year of coordinating the event with the help of the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council. In 2014, when the local Manufacturing Day started, we put forth the ambitious goal of affecting the public’s perception of manufacturing with the objective of inspiring more people to pursue manufacturing careers. We wanted to correct the myth that manufacturing involved repetitive, unskilled tasks that happened in dark, dirty factories and show students what manufacturing really looks like. The fact is, today’s manufacturing jobs are highly skilled. Not only that, but they take place in some of the most exciting, innovative work environments.

The thought behind Manufacturing Day was to bring the public to real manufacturing environments and let them see for themselves. What better way to overcome any lingering, negative stereotypes than to expose them for the misrepresentations that they are. And it’s working!!

When I reached out to Stephanie Patrzik, MA, LLPC, Secondary School Counselor at Grand Traverse Academy, for her feedback from the day, here is what she had to say, “The students at Grand Traverse Academy participate in Project Lead the Way curriculum starting in kindergarten. This STEM-based initiative teaches students how to think, create, and collaborate. The tours of area manufacturing facilities brings relevance to much of their coursework. Junior high students learning about automation and robotics, computer science, design and modeling, and flight and space, see firsthand how their classroom learning transitions into real jobs in their back yards. Manufacturing Day highlights careers that may be otherwise unknown and overlooked.”

Jon Dreher, Vice President of Manufacturing, at TentCraft and Chairman of the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council, had some inspiring reflections as well. “As manufacturers, we must be humble enough and responsible enough to recognize we have to compete for people power, specifically the people for our future. Young students today are the future fuel of manufacturing tomorrow, and they will have many career choices that manufacturing will have to compete against. Manufacturing Day provides the opportunity for the entire ecosystem of manufacturing (i.e. manufacturers, students, educators, and vendors) to work together and show students the exciting career choices we have to offer. This could potentially be our one-shot, the first and only touch-point young students have to see that manufacturing is full of exciting, high-tech, bright cultures with outstanding career growth opportunities.”

The beauty of our local Manufacturing Day is that while the goals are big, the premise is simple. It all starts with manufacturers, schools, and other organizations involved in manufacturing opening their doors to show students, parents, and educators what modern manufacturing is all about. It’s making an impact locally, so mark your calendar for the region’s fifth annual perception-changing event on Friday, October 5, 2018. To volunteer to be a part of the growing celebration or to learn more please contact me.

Betsy Williams, Business Development and Training Specialist
Training Services, Northwestern Michigan College
MMTC - Northern Regional Office
1701 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
(231) 995-2018

Review additional event coverage @ UpNorthLive.

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