Nearly two months after Hurricane Matthew rained on their plans, organizers of the local observance of National Manufacturing Day have bounced back with a slate of activities for public school students remarkably unchanged – or undiminished – from the original event.
MFGday 2016, rescheduled for Thursday, Dec. 1, will still dwarf the two preceding editions of the annual event. Some 800 students from five counties will get a close-up look at manufacturing in the region through plant tours, hands-on seminars and interactive experiences with exhibitors at the event’s base of operation, the N.C. Global TransPark.
“The event is for students. It’s all about the students receiving this experience,” Amanda Conner of Lenoir County Economic Development said. “There was a lot of excitement built up (in October) and we didn’t want to disappoint.”
Elsewhere – those places that didn’t have to deal with a hurricane and resulting floods – National Manufacturing Day was held Oct. 7, billed as “a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.” In Kinston, the approach of Matthew washed away weeks of planning, but it couldn’t dampen enthusiasm for the event.
Schools in Lenoir, Greene, Jones, Wayne and Craven counties are sending students from their Career and Technical Education program, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program or Workforce Investment Opportunity Act program. About 565 CTE students from all LCPS high schools and middle schools will take part.
Manufacturers are staging tours for students from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday. In Lenoir County, they include Field Controls, Barnet, Domestic Fabric & Blanket, Eaton, LGM Enterprises, North State Aviation and Moen.
“Students are going to find out about products being made in our area and how they can be a part of that,” said Jessica Shimer, LCPS’s career development coordinator and, like Conner, a member of the team planning the event.
“They’re going to find out about manufacturing processes and how modern they’ve become,” she said. “They can see how the pathway they’re in in high school can carry them to a career locally or regionally in the manufacturing industry. I think this is going to be eye-opening for them.”
Exhibitors at the GTP, where students will converge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., include Sanderson Farms, Smithfield Foods and Masterbrand Cabinets. Duke Energy is bringing its electric car. Lenoir Community College is bringing its training lab, which features technological interests like computer engineering and robotics. Betabox of Raleigh will show off the 3D technology of its training lab. The N.C. Department of Transportation will feature its biggest trucks and equipment and give students a chance to learn how they work.
The location of those exhibits – in and around the terminal at the GTP – naturally puts an emphasis on aviation-related opportunities for young people. “We are featuring the N.C. Global TransPark this year,” Conner said. “The other manufacturing industries are being highlighted, but since we’re at the GTP and they tailor their space for the aerospace industry, it worked out that way.”
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation has scheduled a morning session on drones at the GTP training center and LCC Aviation has put together an aerospace seminar. Kinston Aero-Modelers will demonstrate radio-controlled airplanes. LCC will have its flight simulator on hand and the control tower at the GTP will be open for tours. Students will eat lunch – provided by Chick-fil-A and Pepsi – in the N.C. Forest Service dining hall, near where the firefighting aircraft are parked.
Planning for MFGday2016 involved Lenoir County Economic Development, Lenoir County Public Schools, Lenoir County Manufacturers Association, Lenoir Community College, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Global TransPark and STEM East.
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