Students Examine Opportunities in Manufacturing First Hand
Students from Park Hill High School were among the Northland young people visiting area plants during Fall in Love with Manufacturing Day Feb. 14. This tour of Piston Automotive in North Kansas City was among nearly a dozen company sites that helped broaden perspectives on job opportunities in the region.
This year on Valentine’s Day, hundreds of Northland high school students got a firsthand look at something called “advanced manufacturing.”
Sponsored by the Northland Education and Business Alliance, the student visits were part of Fall In Love with Manufacturing Day arranged to give students a look at locations that are definitely not your “father’s manufacturing plant.”
“These are part of the new wave of advanced manufacturing,” explained Jim Hampton, executive director of the Clay County Economic Development Council and NEBA partner. “These companies are using some of the most advanced technologies in industry today.”
Some of the best explanations came from the students who represented all seven Northland school districts. “I came here to get some ideas and learn things,” noted Liberty High School student Cooper Harris. “I’m studying engineering, design and development, and this fits right in.”
Cooper was among some 45 students from Liberty and Liberty North led by Brett Kisker at PAS Technologies in North Kansas City. Other businesses included Continental Disc and LMV Automotive in Liberty; Tnemec Company, Industrial Spring Corporation, Marien International and Piston Automotive in North Kansas City.
Though involved in different fields, the businesses share an emphasis on modern technologies like robotics. PAS focuses on aeronautics while Tnemec produces industrial coatings. Others cover everything from computing equipment to automotive equipment.
Many students were clearly impressed. “It was interesting to see the different tracks,” explained Kaylee Chase, Liberty, who visited PAS. “There are a lot of tracks that go into the trades that are valuable and important jobs.”
Several were struck by the skills needed. “I learned that having welding experience will help find a job after high school,” noted Josh Headley, a Platte County High School student who toured Continental Disc in Liberty
Others said they were surprised at the many options available. “I’m exploring different avenues, trying to decide what I like and what’s interesting.” noted Brittney Frazier, who was part of a tour at Industrial Spring, led by Oak Park teacher Mike Chrane. “This is giving me a lot of new ideas.”
NEBA, EDC Start
Hampton said the event grew from a series of CEO Roundtables that revealed how many young people aren’t aware of the significant opportunities in these areas. Manufacturing is often stereotyped as low-tech even though thousands of jobs are being generated in new, advanced fields.
“I heard one students say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you did all that,’” Hampton recalled. “That’s what we wantedto just let them know these opportunities exist, right here in the Northland.”