Thousands of students from across Missouri attended the annual Manufacturing Day Friday where they virtually toured factories across Missouri and learned about careers in the manufacturing industry.
This year and last year, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the statewide online event via Zoom and a Facebook livestream due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students watched videos from inside factories to see how products are made and learn about some of the manufacturing jobs available. Manufacturing executives also answered questions from students and talked about what it’s like to work in the manufacturing industry.
About 7,000 students from 168 schools and 290 classrooms have registered for the event, said Brian Crouse, vice president of education programs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Crouse estimates that about 80 percent of students were in high school, 10 percent were in college, and 10 percent were at the post-secondary level (mostly two-year technical colleges).
Recruiting and developing talent is the number one concern of manufacturers in Missouri. According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the goal of this event is to address this issue through early awareness and the development of a career path for students.
In his opening remarks at the event, Daniel Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, said he hoped the event would encourage students to consider careers in manufacturing, because the talent of the next generation is “the key to the growth of the industry.” . Mehan said he expects to see a need for 5 million new manufacturing professionals in the United States over the next 10 years.
“The manufacturing industry is a huge part of our economy, and it’s thriving in Missouri today,” he said. “We are a state of manufacturers and builders. Some of the most advanced and impressive factories in the world are located right here in Missouri.
The schools in Mid-Missouri that participated in the event are: Linn County R-1 School District, Columbia Public Schools, North Callaway High School, Mexico School District 59, Southern Boone School District in Ashland, State Technical College in Linn, Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla, and State Fair Community College at Sedalia.
The Missouri Chamber Manufacturing Alliance developed the event in collaboration with the Manufacturing Institute, the Missouri Enterprise, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The program was divided into segments featuring a new manufacturer every 20 minutes. Manufacturers featured included Quaker / Pepsico, Nike Air Manufacturing and Innovation, Toyota, Boeing, Orscheln Industries, Brewer Science, Watlow, and Hitachi ABB Power Grid.
The first segment of the event featured Quaker / Pepsico in Colombia, where students watched how millions of grains of rice are converted into rice cakes using a machine, then transported to a flavor room. where another machine adds flavors such as caramel, cheddar and apple cinnamon. The rice cakes are then cooked before being sent to the packaging department.
The Quaker / Pepsico site was built in 1994 and began production with over 100 employees. Since then, it has grown to count more than 350 employees.
It offers career opportunities in production, warehouse, quality assurance and maintenance. He uses nearly nine acres of rice each day – or a rice football field every three and a half hours or so, according to the Quaker / Pepsico video shown at the event.
The final segment of the event featured Hitachi ABB in Jefferson City, where students learned how a power distribution transformer is made. A transformer takes energy from an electrical network and converts it into energy.
Hitachi ABB has approximately 900 employees, including 740 hourly employees and approximately 150 salaried employees. It makes up about 80% of what goes into a transformer, according to the video shown at the event.
At the event, Carter Holt, production manager of Hitachi ABB, said that Hitachi ABB employees work with many people around the world. Holt encouraged students to be open-minded, learn all they can, and develop teamwork skills, as these aspects are important in manufacturing careers.
“Try different things; find what works for you, ”said Holt. “Everyone has a different passion.