St Marys Area School District was recently awarded a Manufacturing Training to Career grant for $200,000 to launch a student-run manufacturing enterprise to enhance the development of students for manufacturing careers. PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Neil Weaver, PA Senator Cris Dush and PA Representative Mike Armanini, along with SMASD administration, school faculty and students, and NWIRC recently announced the initiative during a press conference at the high school on May 19, 2022.
The new student-run manufacturing enterprise, known as Dutch Manufacturing, puts the information learned in their coursework to practical use as students produce actual parts, deliver services, and add value as part of the supply chain for local manufacturers. Over the course of an academic school year, students will learn about and perform different job functions in manufacturing, develop essential life-long skills, utilize advance manufacturing technologies, and build relationships with local companies. At the same time this work readiness is occurring, capacity for local manufacturers is advancing, a short-term solution to job placement is underway, future talent pipeline issues are being addressed, and the next generation of manufacturing business leaders is being cultivated. Initial positions of the student-run enterprise will include Production Manager, Machinists, Business Manager, and Marketing Manager. Through this experience, students will interact with local manufacturers, understand their requirements, key processes and performance metrics for production, quality, and on-time delivery, and help advance manufacturing capacity. Through a collaborative exchange, students will have the opportunity to be mentored, gain expert insight, and develop essential and advanced manufacturing skills. The working relationships established and developed will position the students for future employment opportunities.
Superintendent Harley Ramsey said, “While working collaboratively with regional manufacturers to design, manufacture, pack, and ship part – Dutch Manufacturing brings together the disciplines of drafting, design and precision machining programs while adding a unique pathway for students to be engaged in all aspects of a manufacturing enterprise which requires a critical blend of creativity, soft skills, and technical skills. These are valuable assets regardless of whether students enter industry, college, or military after graduation.
Essential for Dutch Manufacturing is the collaborative partnership among SMASD, area manufacturers, and NWIRC. NWIRC is one of seven PA Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) and is positioned to be the connector between education and industry in this initiative and also lend its manufacturing expertise to the student-run enterprise. “Our mission is to respond to the needs of manufacturers in the region to help their businesses grow, and this program responds to their need for building a future talent pipeline. We are working to replicate this model at other schools throughout the region,” said Robert Zaruta, NWIRC President/CEO.