OSCEOLA COUNTY — Evart and Reed City eighth graders visited several companies to participate in Manufacturing Day.
Manufacturing Day is designed to give manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is and to allow them to talk about the need for skilled manufacturers.
Nationally, manufacturing is the fifth largest employer with 11.6 million employees, according to a 2016 census. The same census claims 555,005 Michigan employees fall under a manufacturing position.
More than 600 students across both Osceola and Mecosta counties participated in the tours throughout the day on Oct. 5.
Reed City students started their tours of several facilities with Reed City Group. Here, 115 students toured the facility split into smaller groups of 20 and got to see things from a new 3-D printing lab to an Active 5-axis machine.
During the time spent in the 3-D printing lab, students got the hear about the products being made in the lab and what goes into making each design.
The employee who discussed the uses of printing in manufacturing, Luke Richard, spoke on the use of the developments Reed City Group is making with using the printing to make more affordable prosthetics for amputees.
The final stop for one group was the 5 Axis CNC machine, a machine that carves out material at multiple angles to produce objects and shapes “that we just can’t create by hand,” said operator Derek Willmer.
Willmer is a former Marine who worked on machines when stationed in Iraq. He even had pictures of his facility out for the kids to go through.
“I didn’t get a college education,” he told the kids. “This is all something I learned on the job. This is something you can start at 17 and do the grunt work and learn a little here and there and work your way up if you work hard.”
Giving kids more options beyond college after high school is a topic Evart touched upon in their report on their day to the Evart school board.
“One of the things really being emphasized are the skilled trades and the fact that that can really take you places,” said Evart Middle School Principal Jason O’Dell. “There are businesses that will provide you training should you choose not to go to college.”
Evart took a total of 75 eighth-graders to visit the career center and several industries like Ice Mountain, Vitro and Chippewa Plastics.
Evart students used to go down to Career Quest in Grand Rapids, according to O’Dell but ended up having to stop due to the event getting too large for the smaller schools.
O’Dell hopes to eventually be able to get into Ventra and show the kids what that industry looks like, as well.