By Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

National Manufacturing Day provides students, parents, and communities a glimpse of modern manufacturing. Held on the first Friday of October, it’s grown exponentially since starting back in 2012. Now, many recognize during the entire month of October with companies and organizations planning tours, class presentations, and activities to create awareness around manufacturing. I’m looking forward to sharing a recap and photos of some of NWIRC’s activities next month. In the meantime, I can’t emphasize enough how exciting it is to see the growth and expansion of student-run manufacturing enterprises across our region. Now, over a month into the school year, new students are getting the opportunity to be part of this unique model that focuses on providing high-school students with purposeful work and connections with local manufacturing leaders. The student-run enterprise model isn’t necessarily new and it definitely is not a one-size-fits-all for high schools. NWIRC has been effective at bringing together schools with local industry to explore and plan an enterprise that fits each schools’ current capabilities- with a focus on future growth and matching the needs of manufacturers in each community. While no student-run enterprise is the same, the common thread is putting information students learn in coursework to practical use. The students run all aspects of a manufacturing business – production, machining, quality, engineering and design, sales and quoting, accounting, shipping and receiving, and marketing. They collaborate with local manufacturers to explore opportunities for production or services they can provide, quote the work, produce and deliver actual parts, invoice for the job, and everything else in between. The student-run enterprise becomes a valued part of the supply chain for their new customers.

There will soon be six programs in our region, the most recent being planned at Titusville High School. All of the programs are supported (in part) by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Manufacturing Training to Career grant program. These high schools are also supported by their own school districts and other grants, foundations, and donations from local manufacturers – to include equipment and time. During the last school year, many of the newer programs worked on building out their business model and training for sales, quoting, critical thinking, and team building. Some developed a logo and ‘brand’ for their program. Here are some others updates:

Lion Manufacturing (Clarion-Limestone High School, Strattanville, PA)

They were awarded their grant this past Spring and had the privilege of hosting the Deputy Secretary of the PA Dept of Education at their program announcement. Students are ramping up their program and establishing relationships with local manufacturers.

Dutch Manufacturing (St Marys Area High School, St Marys PA)

Last year, Dutch Manufacturing focused on designing and producing their own original product – a golf divot tool that can be customize for companies or organizations having golf outings or tournaments. They will continue production this year, and also focus on doing work for other manufacturers.

McDowell Manufacturing (McDowell High School, Erie, PA)

Now in it’s 4th year, they continue to do business with numerous local manufacturers, and this year are introducing smart manufacturing curriculum and undergoing a renovation of their technology lab, now called the Gene Haas Training and Education Center (Advanced Manufacturing Lab).

Parkway Industrial (Bradford Area High School, Bradford PA)

Students worked with 6 companies, manufacturing close to 700 parts. They were highlighted in the news as they delivered some special parts produced for American Refining Group.

1st Class Precision Manufacturing (Warren County Career Center, Warren PA)

These students were up and running the second half of their school year and worked with three key customers to produce over 500 parts in a few short months.

NWIRC is a strategic partner with these schools and their student-run manufacturing enterprises. As with all the manufacturing companies our center works with, we are focused on helping them grow and improve their businesses. The interest in this educational model continues to gain traction in order to introduce students to manufacturing careers and provide hands-on experience, which makes scaling these programs across other communities our priority. Have a great Manufacturing Month!