LIMA — “What’s a four-hundred-and-one, K?” a junior-high student asked in a Rhodes classroom.
Even for working adults, 401Ks and retirement plans can be confusing, but an impressive benefits packages can be even harder to sell to a tween.
It must be an employee’s job market.
During the first Rhodes State College’s advanced manufacturing summer camp, 18 STEM-inclined students are getting the chance to talk to companies, attend manufacturing demonstrations and tour facilities from across the eight-county region. For the students, it’s a cool experience, but for the six manufacturing companies involved, they’re creating the foundation to convince the students to pursue a manufacturing career.
The problem, Grob Systems Inc. Training Coordinator Dean Kales said, is society’s outdated perception of manufacturing.
“The idea around manufacturing is that it is loud and dirty,” Kales said. “And that’s not the case.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, whose office helped organize Allen County’s and the 31 additional camps across the state, echoed the sentiment.
“Too often, when some students and parents hear the word ‘manufacturing,’ they think about dirty, dusty old jobs, and the outdated, offensive term ‘rust belt.’ We are working to change that impression, because we know that today’s Ohio factories aren’t rusty — they’re innovative and high-tech, and will provide good-paying, high-skilled jobs to future generations of Ohioans,” Brown stated in a press release.
West Central Ohio Manufacturing Consortium Director Doug Durliat said Brown’s office reached out to Rhodes State College earlier this year to initiative Allen County’s program due to a dearth of such camps in the area.
As for the camp itself, Grob’s participation included a 20-minute presentation that covered the company, its processes and some of its services to show how the work is done. Following the presentation, the students got the chance to try to replicate the precision one of Grob’s specialty machines — a $300,000-plus device that can carve a basketball net out of a block of aluminum.
“We cut to within microns, which is smaller than a human hair,” Kales said.
Other companies with plans to participate include Dana, Rudolph Foods, the Honda Heritage Center, Airstream and Ametek-Westchester Plastics.
By Monday afternoon, the students said they had already learned a few things about manufacturing despite their short time in the program. A big part of the morning’s festivities included a safety demonstration where a few students realized how much power is cranked out by some machines and tools.
“We learned to pay attention to work machines,” Eighth grader Grace Eilerman said. “A machine can be tons dangerous and there’s so many safety protocols. It’s insane.”
Eighth-grader Chase Hapsher said he wanted to be a part of a camp to get a better idea of what his dad’s job is like in a bottling company. Someday, he could be doing something similar. With the dream to be a video game designer, he could end up writing the code necessary for many manufacturing processes.
“To write code, it takes a lot of memory, and I’m really good at math,” Hapsher said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.