Monday, Mar 27th

Last update:12:41:11 AM GMT

Lenoir County Public Schools: Schools High Schools Bigger, better Manufacturing Day focusing on job skills

Bigger, better Manufacturing Day focusing on job skills

E-mail Print PDF

More than 900 middle and high school students from Lenoir and neighboring counties will get a first-hand, hands-on look at manufacturing in the region and the skills needed to be a part of it during Manufacturing Day 2016, set for Friday.

Entering its third year, the local observance of the national event has quickly gained momentum and this year, according to organizers, it will be the biggest ever – more schools, more students, more counties, more manufacturers and more things to see and do during an afternoon expo at the event’s new base, the N.C. Global TransPark.

“Confirmed students now are 945 from Lenoir County, Greene County, Wayne County, Jones County and Craven County,” Amanda Conner of Lenoir County Economic Development said. “We have approximated 50 vendors that are going to set up at the North Carolina Global TransPark JetPort terminal. We will have 12-15 manufacturing sites for students to tour, and we have about 20 manufacturers that will be exhibitors at the JetPort terminal.”mfgday_logo

Compare that with the first MFGday event here two years ago, when 40 community college students toured four plants, or even last year, when 300 Lenoir County Public School students toured 10 plants in the county.

“We decided to make this a regional event because, with it being based this year at the GTP, a regional resource for economic development and manufacturing, it only made sense to reflect that workforce,” Conner said. “Typically, your workforce is regional, so we wanted to mirror that. I think the students’ being able to see that will help them understand the opportunities are a lot bigger than what they see inside their four walls at school.”

All students coming to MFGday16 are involved in their public school system’s Career and Technical Education program, its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program or in its Workforce Investment Opportunity Act program.

“We’ve incorporated eighth graders this year, which is new,” said Jessica Shimer, LCPS’s career development coordinator and a member of the team planning the event.

Planting the seed of future opportunity is important to participating manufacturers like Field Controls, an industry leader in draft, venting and combustion air technology that has made Kinston its home since 1977.

Mike Afarian is vice president of finance at Field Controls and president of the Lenoir County Manufacturers Association, a major sponsor of MFGday16 here.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity for local students to find a good career close to home,” Afarian said. “There are a lot of challenging positions in the various manufacturing companies and this is a good way to expose students to that and let them know eastern North Carolina is an area where they have a future.”

MFGday16, billed as “a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers,” is divided into two parts here – tours of area manufacturing facilities from 9 to 11 a.m. and, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., exhibits by manufacturers and about manufacturing in and around the GTP JetPort terminal.

Not all school groups will tour manufacturing facilities – upperclassmen are getting preferential treatment – but all students will get lunch, provided by Chick-fil-A and other sponsors, and all will get to explore manufacturers’ booths and exhibits related to manufacturing job skills and STEM careers.

Among some of the more unusual attractions are Lenoir Community College’s flight simulator and its training lab, which features technological interests like computer engineering and robotics; the 3D technology of the training lab from Betabox of Raleigh; and demonstrations of radio-controlled airplanes by Kinston Aero-Modelers.

“They will be breaking up into groups of 15 and going around in 10-minute intervals to the various booths,” Conner said of students.

Lenoir County manufacturers opening their plants to tours by students include West Pharmaceutical, Barnet, Domestic Fabric & Blanket, North State Aviation, LGM Enterprises, Field Controls and Moen.

Businesses setting up exhibits at the Global TransPark include Smithfield Farmland, Masterbrand Cabinets, Spirit Aero Systems, Barnhill Construction, Minges Bottling and several on the tour schedule.