Manufacturers open their doors to attract a future workforce
The first time Tyler Collins walked onto a modern manufacturing floor, his perceptions about factory work instantly changed.
“I was blown away,” said Collins, a junior at Elsberry High School. “I had no idea, really, what machining consisted of and it was kind of a shocker at first.”
Collins had just visited the factory floor at Toyota-Bodine, a robotics-aided facility in Troy where aluminum castings and transmission casings are created from molten metal.
“Whatever you can imagine, you can build it with all this technology,” Collins said. “It’s awesome.”
That’s exactly the impression Toyota-Bodine officials were hoping to leave with Collins and his peers who toured the facility during the factory’s inaugural Manufacturing Day event.
Manufacturing Day is a national event that launched in 2012.
“It’s a platform for manufacturers to open their doors and demonstrate to their communities what 21st century manufacturing is all about,” said Nicholas D’Antonio, who leads the national Manufacturing Day event as the Dream It. Do It. program manager with the Manufacturing Institute in Washington D.C.
Across Missouri, 28 factories opened their doors for Manufacturing Day this year.
Visitors who toured these facilities were likely surprised how manufacturing has evolved.
“It’s actually really eye-opening. When you think of manufacturing, you don’t think about it like this,” said Mike Bathon, an Advanced Maintenance Technician student at the State Technical College of Missouri, located in Linn.
Bathon’s classmate, Hunter Sparks, had a similar impression.
“I thought a factory was more like, people clock in clock out—they don’t really like their jobs. But I really enjoy coming here. I look forward to coming here,” he said.
Camryn Vrbka, who is also an Advanced Maintenance Technician student, said being exposed to factories helped show her how her skills were needed in manufacturing versus her original plan of becoming an engineer.
“I want to get out there and play with the machines. I want to get out there and turn wrenches and fix things,” Vrbka said. “Not just design the cool machines; I want to work with the cool machines.”
She’s glad to have discovered this career option.
“I never envisioned myself working in a factory… but this is where I’m at today and I really enjoy it,” she said.
Drew DeManuele, an engineering and design teacher Lincoln County R-III, brought a group of his students to the Manufacturing Day event at Toyota-Bodine.
“I think it’s great for these kids to see they can have a successful career outside of an office space, using their hands and doing things that they like,” he said.
For Collins, the Elsberry High School junior, the opportunity to see inside a modern factory had a real impact as he considers his options for the future.
“I’d be very interested in doing this for a career,” he said. “I still have time to decide but this is one of the big ones I’d rather choose from.”