National MFG Day spotlights manufacturing

Middle and high school students visit Portland Community College on Manufacturing Day. (Photo: PCC)

Last Friday, more than 280 middle and high school students from seven school districts gathered at Portland Community College’s recently completed Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) Training Center and another OMIC facility.

It was the first time Manufacturing Day was held in-person held locally since 2019. Students and community members had a chance to see live demonstrations of 3D printing, laser cutting and virtual welding, as well as engage hands-on activities to spark their interest in advanced manufacturing.

The event, which was produced in collaboration with regional industry, education and workforce development partners, is one of the largest of its kind in Oregon and part of national MFG Day, which includes many community colleges across the country as partners.

Representatives from more than 40 local companies and educational institutions were on hand at PCC’s event, including President Adrien Bennings.

“Manufacturing Day is particularly important because it gives us an opportunity to not only celebrate how far we’ve come, but also to look to the future and recognize the leaders of tomorrow,” Bennings said in a release. “We have an obligation and responsibility to provide them with the possibilities, as well as the space, to learn and build the skills needed to be successful.”

Across the country

Around the country, Manufacturing Day provided students and community members an opportunity to see the various types of manufacturing in myriad industries, from apparel to aerospace. It also offered an opportunity for community colleges and other training institutions to show manufacturers what training they provide and how they can partner.

In Ohio, Rhodes State College and the West Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership invited local manufacturers to visit the college and learn about the advantages of partnering with colleges and career technical centers to implement earn-and-learn models for employee training and retention.

In Illinois, College of Lake County (CLC) is featuring manufacturing all month, and on October 22 will open its new Advanced Technology Center, which is housed in a repurposed building to meet the training needs of manufacturers in the area. Later in the month, CLC and MxD, a digital manufacturing innovation center, will host a session on bridging the gap between cybersecurity and manufacturing roles that highlight training opportunities, career pathway information and student apprenticeships.

In Moure County, North Carolina, the local Chamber of Commerce, Sandhills Community College and other local partners hosted a “manufacturer appreciation” luncheon and a tour of the Meridian Kiosks facility, which builds custom interactive kiosks, smart locker systems, digital EV charging stations, and other self-service solutions. Its customers include Panasonic, Hewlitt Packard, Samsung and Walmart.

“We held the luncheon and tour to show appreciation for our manufacturers and raise awareness in the community that today’s manufacturing industry has advanced beyond traditional manufacturing. We see many of our manufacturers using innovative technologies to enhance their products and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes. That’s a story we need to tell,” said Linda Parsons, CEO and president of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce.

Related article: Spreading the word about manufacturing

Moore County is home to nearly 80 manufacturing companies that employ more than 1,800 workers with total wages exceeding $23 million, making manufacturing Moore County’s fifth largest private industry sector, according to the chamber of commerce. A recent survey of county employers shows that within the next 12 months, 92% of manufacturers expect a growth in sales or revenues, more than half expect to expand their workforce, and one-third expect to expand their facilities.

At the luncheon, Jared Little, director of advanced manufacturing and customized training at Sandhills Community College, shared the services college can provide to support workforce development.

“Advanced manufacturing can provide rewarding careers for skilled workers in a high-tech, dynamic work environment. Sandhills Community College can partner to provide employees with the skills and training they need to help our manufacturers succeed,” Little said.

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