Advanced Manufacturing Day event helps local students learn about the industry

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Area high school students participated in a Clayton County Advanced Manufacturing Day on Oct. 21, splitting time between Pattison Sand Mine in Clayton and Gencor in Marquette. At Gencor, they watched employees build pieces of equipment to make asphalt plants, and learned about the skills and technology utilized there. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

The stop at Pattison Sand included a tour of the mine, an on site blast and welding and heavy equipment operating experiences. (Photo by Caroline Rosacker, The Guttenberg Press)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

Over 50 high school students from MFL MarMac, Central, Clayton Ridge,  Postville and North Fayette Valley participated in a Clayton County Advanced Manufacturing Day on Oct. 21.

 

Students split the day between Pattison Sand Mine in Clayton and Gencor in Marquette, where they engaged in tours and hands-on activities to learn more about the industry.

 

The stop at Pattison included a tour of the mine, an on site blast and welding and heavy equipment operating experiences. At Gencor, students watched employees build pieces of equipment to make asphalt plants, and learned about the skills and technology utilized there. 

 

Schools were “overwhelmingly happy” with the experience, according to Sarah Beaman, college and career coach at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), who organized the event in partnership with Clayton County Development Group Executive Director Darla Kelchen.

 

“The community college’s goal is to help improve our communities, and part of that goal is for students to stay close to home. But to do that, they have to learn what options they have, what training they need and see the people they would be hired by,” Beaman explained. “Active and hands-on experiences stick with them more.”

 

"I do think these types of field trips are valuable," added MFL MarMac industrial technology educator Joe Milewsky. "The kids need to know that there are opportunities to make a living close to home. This means with or without furthering your education. A lot of employers do not mind training the new hires for the job they want done or even sending them to school to train them the way they want."

 

"I didn't realize there were so many employed by Pattison's and their scope of work/job opportunities," Milewsky said. "Gencor is familiar to me because I worked there for eight years. The surprising item about Gencor  is the addition of robotic welding machines. They save time and money when doing repetitive work."

 

Beaman works with local schools regularly through NICC’s College and Career Connection (CCC), a program that exposes students to high-demand career areas and sets them on the pathway to career and educational success beyond high school. The program provides work-based learning opportunities for students in partnership with local businesses.

 

“I supplement teachers, counselors and parents,” said Beaman, “by setting up job shadows, providing career exploration resources, proof reading, trouble shooting, helping with roadblocks—whatever students need to help plan for the future. And I love getting businesses to participate.”

 

According to Beaman, employers—particularly those in the manufacturing industry—see the need to recruit students to fill positions.

 

“They all know they have to do it. They know it’s going to happen, that the Baby Boomers are retired or are going to retire,” she explained. “And, in general, a ton more kids are going straight to the workforce. Many of these tours turn into full- or part-time employment.”

 

More and more, employers are getting creative in including technology, “angling it so students see how they can belong in the workforce,” Beaman said.

 

While manufacturing is one of the most emphasized career groups for events like the one Oct. 21, health care is also popular. One CCC activity in November will take students to the Gundersen Exploratory Surgery Day in La Crosse, Wis. Another event is the Independence Mental Health Institute Career Experience.

 

“There’s also an Electric Cooperative Exploratory Career Day, mock interviews, a women’s empowerment day,” Beaman shared. “Central has In the Know in the Nook, where they invite a lot of these employers in to the school. On Nov. 8, there’s a career fair at MFL MarMac. We have an ongoing list of events.”

 

Beaman is happy to explore more partnerships, and can be contacted at beamans@nicc.edu.

 

“If you are an employer or know of a student who would benefit from coaching, reach out,” she said.

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