NWIRC works all year long to create awareness about the importance of manufacturing for our national, state, and local economies – and this includes helping to enhance the pipeline for the future workforce. But every year, there is one day and one month that draws a little more attention.

Photo of MFG Day citation from PA House Manufacturing Caucus
(L-R) PA Rep. Bryan Cutler, Rep. Jim Cox, Rep. Donna Oberlander, NWIRC’s Bob Zaruta, and Rep. Parke Wentling on the House Floor at the Capitol in Harrisburg

Manufacturing Day is a national designation that began numerous years ago to occur each year on the first Friday of October – this year, it happens to fall on October 1st. MFG Day celebrates modern manufacturing and inspires the next generation to consider careers in manufacturing. It began by encouraging companies to open their doors to students so they can see first-hand the excitement and passion companies have for what they are making and the job opportunities available. The celebration has since expanded across the country into Manufacturing Week and Manufacturing Month activities. I recently had the privilege of attending a special presentation in Harrisburg to acknowledge Manufacturing Day. A citation was presented to the PA Industrial Resource Center Network on behalf of the House Manufacturing Caucus.

The presentation included the citation sponsors, PA Representative Donna Oberlander (one of the House Manufacturing Caucus Co-Chairs), along with Reps. Bryan Cutler, Jim Cox, and Parke Wentling. A similar citation will soon be presented by the PA Senate Manufacturing Caucus.

PA Dream Team of Jefferson and Clearfield Counties

NWIRC and Workforce Solutions are working collaboratively with industry, schools, and area stakeholders to promote innovative programs that feature technical careers and career/technical education to students, parents, and educators. We are launching the PA Dream Team pilot program in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties. This Dream Team will ultimately consist of 10-15 members representing area manufacturing companies, who will be trained to tell their career pathway stories to K-12 students in the classroom using presentation materials, hands-on activities, and lesson plans that align with academic standards. The purpose of the PA Dream Team Program is to improve the talent pool of students pursuing technical skills and increase the number of students interested in STEM careers so that projected workforce demands and opportunities at area manufacturing companies are filled with the right skilled employees. The most effective way to expose area students to STEM careers, technology, and modern manufacturing environments is by meeting young successful employees who work in the field.
PA Dream Team Clearfield and Jefferson County logoThis new PA Dream Team will be comprised of employees mostly under the age of 30 working at area manufacturing companies. By serving on this collaborative and innovative ambassador team, they help unlock interest among students to consider similar STEM careers. Dream Team members will eventually be available for presentations at area schools and community events to talk with students about their own path to manufacturing. The original PA Dream Team Program in Lehigh Valley, PA was created by the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) and powered by Bosch Community Fund and Air Products.

For individuals or companies interested in getting involved with the Dream Team for Jefferson and Clearfield Counties, I encourage you to reach out to one of the program contacts. (Workforce Solutions: Colleen Prechtl, cprechtl@ncwdb.org; Jocelyn Bash, jbash@ncwdb.org; NWIRC: Tom Weible,
tweible@nwirc.org; Laurie Knoll, lknoll@nwirc.org)

Exploring the Marvels of Manufacturing

Exploring the Marvels of Manufacturing logoNWIRC presents “Exploring the Marvels of Manufacturing” during the month of October for 6-12 grade students in 14 counties of northwestern PA. Students can participate by completing a 2-part entry, including: 1) a worksheet answering questions inspired by the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing student video contest and 2) writing a short article on ‘how manufacturing has touched their life”. Entries are submitted via an online portal link at www.nwirc.org/mfgmonth. The deadline to submit an entry is October 31 and students who submit are entered in a drawing to win Amazon and Apple Gift Cards. Program sponsors include: Edinboro University, Northwest Bank, NWPA Chapter of National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), NEFF,
and ABB. (www.nwirc.org/mfgmonth)

Student-Run Manufacturing Enterprise

McDowell Manufacturing logoMost likely you’ve seen previous references to McDowell Manufacturing- a student-run enterprise that began as a partnership between Millcreek Township School District (in Erie PA) and NWIRC. The program was up and running for the first time during the 2020-2021 school year with 22 students and they manufactured 7137 parts for 7 local manufacturers. There are 48 students signed up this year. I’ve been discussing this educational model for advanced manufacturing with school districts through the northwest and north central PA region. The day before MFG Day, administrators and students from the Bradford and St Marys School Districts, as well as regional technical schools, were invited to a small event to see the McDowell Manufacturing technology lab first-hand and speak with students in the program. In addition, the Secretary for the PA Department of Education, Noe Ortega, is scheduled to tour the technology lab and hear about the program on MFG Day (October 1).

Thank you to all of the manufacturing companies in the 13-counties of northwest and north central Pennsylvania for your resilience and everything you do for your employees and the community. Happy Manufacturing Month!