Manufacturing Day turns students’ heads in Dayton and beyond
Area manufacturers opened their doors in an attempt to open minds Friday, introducing their businesses to what they hope will be the next generation of engineers, production workers, quality managers, accountants and technicians.
Every year, the first Friday in October nationwide is set aside to show students, teachers and guidance counselors that manufacturing never stopped being what industry advocates argue is a viable and valuable career.
On Friday, more than 2,640 Manufacturing Day events were scheduled nationwide.
The American manufacturing sector has added some 350,000 jobs since January 2017, and a recent study from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte projects that by the year 2025, some two million jobs within the industry will likely go unfilled. The National Association of Manufacturers has said about 500,000 manufacturing jobs are open at the moment.
In Friday’s national jobs report, manufacturing as a sector added 18,000 jobs, about the same as education and health services.
Finding the right employees means reaching students when they’re young, said Bob Kinion, general manager of Canadian manufacturer Hematite, which opened the doors of its Lau Parkway plant to more than 40 fifth- and sixth-graders from Englewood Hills Elementary School.
Englewood math and science teacher Ashley McGriff said the company tours are a chance to open eyes and calibrate expectations.
“It’s an opportunity for our students to start exploring careers that maybe they haven’t though of,” McGriff said. “Typically, when you ask students at this age what they want to do, a lot of it involves being a doctor, being a lawyer, being an athlete. I don’t think they’ve had the exposure to something like this, to know that there are other types of jobs.”
Kinion gave students an hour-long tour of the Hematite production floor, showing them how the company uses recycled materials to make acoustic-dampening parts and engine shields for Honda, Toyota, Ford and others.
“Do you think robots will take over the world,” an Englewood student asked Kinion.
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “You can always pull the plug, right?”
In the first national Manufacturing Day observed in Dayton, in 2012, there were 10 company open houses attended by 150 students — which Angelia Erbaugh, president of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, called “a small first go.”
But that “small first go” got bigger quickly.
Last year, the Dayton-area had 64 open houses attended by more than 3,600 area students from 60 schools and 10 home-school groups.
Wayne High School teacher Ted Kleiser pointed to a few of his 43 engineering students touring Staub Manufacturing Solutions Friday. One plans on applying to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said. Another was eyeing Florida State University.
“It can shed some light on possible careers,” Kleiser said of the tour. “All these students that we bring are looking at possible careers, either in engineering or in engineering tech work. And this lets them see what industry is like and what the jobs are like, so that when they do get to college, they can have a better feel for what kind of majors they might like.”
“And the ones who decide they don’t want a four-year degree, it can help them see what they want at Sinclair (Community College),” he added.
Steve Staub, company owner, told students he doesn’t have a four-year degree, leaving Wright State University after one year. But his sister and company co-owner, Sandy Keplinger, does have a college degree, he noted.
In any case, there are different ways of pursuing an education, Staub told the Wayne students.
“Life is a lifelong journey of learning, no matter what you do,” he said.