Cleveland High School students toured B.E.S.T. (Business and Education Serving Together) partner Cormetech, and Eaton Electrical where they were given overviews of the companies and products before taking 30-minute tours in each facility.
Manufacturing Day is a program sponsored by national manufacturing associations. This was the second year for the one-day event.
Cleveland Associated Industries Director Lisa Pickel said CAI, an association of 28 local industries, made the call for host industries and went with 11 selected on a first-come-first-serve basis. In addition to Cormetech and Eaton Electrical, the industries included Lonza, Olin, Wacker, Whirlpool, Mars Chocolate and Proctor & Gamble.
“We want each of the manufacturers to view their plants as photographs for their stories, so we’re trying to let them really tell their stories,” Pickel said. “The students are going to see a lot of robotics and what that does and if you worked there, what you would have to know to run that piece of equipment.”
Manufacturing requires math, science and critical thinking in a fast-paced environment.
“At Eaton, for example, there is assembly work, but it is still so very different from the past. It’s fast paced, so it has to keep moving and they can do all pieces of the assembly line and they understand where all of the pieces come from,” she said. “They understand how it is going to affect the whole line if there is a shortage of one piece.”
She said Eaton uses a variety of skills and knowledge from the assembly line to robotics and from welding to the paint shop.
“There are a lot of different lines. There are a lot of different opportunities in a place like Eaton, for example,” she said.
Denise Rice, director of Cleveland Operations and Development, participated in 2012 and urged other members of CAI to promote the experience this year.
Rice said Manufacturing Day was the perfect day to introduce the future workforce to the world of manufacturing.
“We want to address the common misperceptions about manufacturing by opening our doors to students and teachers so they can view manufacturing as a real career choice,” she said. “Manufacturers’ goals are to connect with the future generation, change our public image and create awareness of the career opportunities that exist.”
After a tour of the 120,000- square-foot plant, Aahliya Jefferson said she plans to enroll at Louisiana State University and eventually study medicine. She has never been inside a manufacturing plant. The size, cleanliness and cohesiveness of the employees surprised her.
Caleb Mott is interested in robotics, automation, electricity and programming. His dream is to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“My dream college has always been MIT. It’s extremely hard to get into, but if I could that would be extremely amazing,” he said.
Mott has toured United Knitting, where his father has worked 15 years.
“I really like this one better because it is more automated,” he said. “I thought seeing that difference was really neat. When she (Rice) said they had a few robots, I was thinking big, and not that many in such a small space.”
Rice said, “We are proud to be made in Tennessee, but we ship product all over the world. We actually export to China.”
Pickel said many manufacturers offer educational assistance and advancement opportunities.
“From the research I’ve done, the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. makes $77,000 a year,” she said. “It’s good money. It’s not like they are starting off at $7.50 an hour and they’ll always make that. It’s very good money.”