If you ask most high school students about a career, their knowledge of STEM careers is often delimited by the jobs of people they know or the more traditional occupations like scientist, engineer, doctor, nurse, electrician, etc. How do we acquaint students with the array of STEM jobs for which they have no clue that exist?
One powerful way is to take them to the job site where they can see people in these positions and learn about industry. Manufacturing Day, designed by Kalie Davis and the Blue Mountain Workforce Training Center, brought students from around the region to explore careers in industry. Starting at the Training Center, students dug into computers and learned what technicians do to keep the data center in Boardman running. They would hear about what education they would need to do the job, how much they could expect to earn, and the environment of the job place.
From there, students boarded the bus and made a short hop to one plant of the nation's largest potato processing company. Touring the facility they heard and saw people maintaining and repairing automated systems and understanding the degree of technology required in a modern plant.
From there they visited an electric power plant. Seems simple, right? Did you know that everyone at this facility is steeped in a knowledge of chemistry? Power production depends on water with very specific characteristics. Engineers and technicians check for water pH, mineral content, and purity at multiple points to assure that the massive boilers and valves do not either corrode or cake with deposits. The students learned first-hand from a power plant technician all of the various electrical and mechanical systems that were maintained and math and science required to keep pace with the learning. A final stop at the plant was the control room. Surrounded by dozens of screens and controls the technician demonstrated how the entire plant was run from this booth and how knowledge of software systems was required to know how to manipulate the plant.
Manufacturing Day was a taste of what is out there--a teaser to get students thinking about the future and about the variety of jobs and positions waiting for them. It gave the lure of challenging and interesting jobs and the carrot of a good income as well as the road they need to take to get there.
You may not have the same range of manufacturing and industry like Boardman, but you can develop your own manufacturing day concept in your area by acquainting students with STEM careers they probably don't know exist. Kalie would be happy to help you get started. Contact her at: