by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC
As promised in my last article, this month we’re taking a look back at Manufacturing Month 2023. NWIRC had some exciting activities on the schedule in October and I knew it would be great to share and reminisce about our continued efforts to create awareness of manufacturing careers. Per usual in October, we again hosted the Exploring the Marvels of Manufacturing – a virtual activity to engage students in Grades 6-12 and in addition, implemented the social media campaign sharing profiles of manufacturing ‘superheroes’ in our region. The NWIRC team was also out and about throughout the month.
The biggest MFG Day event in our region is hosted by the Manufacturer & Business Association. This year the event on October 11 was the 10th Anniversary of this showcase that brings 2000 students from 30 school districts to the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. NWIRC is just one of numerous exhibitors with hands-on activities, and the highlight for students is definitely all the manufacturing companies who show off their products, technology, and their eagerness to connect with future talent.
Partnering with the Titusville Middle School, we coordinated an opportunity for their students (along with their parents or other adults) to explore manufacturing in their community on a Saturday (Oct 14). The morning highlights included a tour of Grand Valley Manufacturing, activities at the Pitt Titusville Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC), and 5 exhibits with hands-on STEM activities at the middle school (featuring NWPA NTMA, Matric Group, Webco, and IZZIT), and lunch sponsored by RTI. Ten days later, we were at Titusville High School for an announcement launching their student-run manufacturing enterprise with the support of a $200,000 PA Manufacturing Training to Career grant.
NWIRC officially kicked-off a Manufacturing Dream Team for the northwest PA counties. With
19 Dream Teamers recruited so far, these individuals are passionate about their manufacturing careers and want to connect with students in a variety of ways. NWIRC’s Talent Stream Coordinator, Tara Lawrence, was busy scheduling them for classroom presentations, events, and to provide tours at their facilities for October and beyond.
NWIRC’s Manufacturing Dream Team is a sponsor of the JET TV 24 Skilled Workforce Series and debuted a commercial* in October geared to educators and organizations doing career exploration with students. Speaking of the news media, I had the opportunity to be a featured ‘newsmaker’ on JET 24 and also a guest on TalkErie Radio- both times sharing the importance of manufacturing to the region’s economy, MFG Day, and keeping that awareness going all year long.
Our North Central PA Dream Team member, Kevryn Dixon from American Refining Group, spent a morning with 35 students of the student-run manufacturing enterprise (SRME) at Bradford Area High School (ask Parkway Industrial). The students were from the machine technology and engineering programs and she shared her career path story and some fun hands-on activities for critical thinking. The SRME at Clarion-Limestone Highschool (aka Lion Manufacturing) hosted an open house for the community.
The Secretary of the PA Department of Education, Khalid Mumin, visited McDowell High School (aka McDowell Manufacturing). It was great observing the Secretary so engaged with the students and enthralled by their opportunity for practical experience making real parts for local manufacturing customers.
The students of the Uniquely Abled Academy at Crawford Tech (a CNC machinist training program for high-functioning individuals on the autism spectrum) participated in two ‘experience days’ touring Acutec Precision Aerospace, Greenleaf Corp, Highpoint Tool, Sippy Historic Machine Shop, and Pinnacle Molds.
I had the privilege of touring several manufacturing facilities (October 10 and 23) as a guest along with members of the PA Manufacturing Caucus for visits coordinated by Representatives Jake Banta, Lee James, and Donna Oberlander.
This is just a sampling of NWIRC’s Manufacturing Month activity, but you can be assured that this work will continue all year long. I encourage you to do the same.
It’s actually now November with Thanksgiving fast-approaching. I leave you with some final thoughts for manufacturers in our region of things to be thankful for (and embrace) – if you are blessed to have the following: 1) happy, flexible employees with high-morale; 2) happy and satisfied customers in diverse markets; and 3) reliable suppliers. On behalf of all of us at NWIRC, we are thankful to work with companies within this exciting and everchanging-industry every day and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
*You can see the Manufacturing Dream Team commercial and learn more at: www.nwirc.org/dreamteam.