By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day.
Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice.
“We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.”
This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator.
“There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing.
Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said.
Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs.
“This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.”
This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors.
“I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students.
The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking.
Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed how to measure the gases in the bags of beans.
At another table, students were donning virtual reality goggles used by Rudolph Libbe on construction projects to help people visualize the final product. “It’s easier than an end user who can’t read 2-D drawings,” said Trent Mahaney, virtual design and construction manager for the company.
Employees from Lubrizol taught some lessons on hydraulics, air pressure and fluid flow, using a series of water tanks to see which fills up first and how the water flows. The company threw in an added attraction of goldfish in one of the tanks.
“We put goldfish in there because we thought they were cool,” said Matt Paquette, Lubrizol plant manager. “They come over here to see the fish and they end up learning something.”
The employees from Control Design Solutions showed students that one company can make several different products. The same plant in Bowling Green processes and packages foods – like Golden Grahams cereal and Goobers peanut butter and jelly combo – and produces parts for car seats.
The Marathon Special Products display showed kids how engineering is used from the concept stage to the final product. They had a 3-D printer on hand.
“Manufacturing is so innovative,” said Carol Espen, human resources manager at Marathon. “We want to excite them about the opportunities that exist. That’s our goal.”
The robots came compliments of Penta Career Center. Students were making them spin across the floor, pick up items or even move a chair across the room.
“Kids this age are crazy about this stuff,” said Ryan Thomas, from the manufacturing and transportation sophomore exploratory program at Penta.
At the Rosenboom display, students learned about the assembly and functions of hydraulic cylinders. And at the Betco table, students were using dye to color the company’s soap any shade they wished.
The hit of the day for some students was meeting “Lil Poundcake,” a guinea pig at the Vitakraft Sunseed company display. The company makes feed for small animals and birds.
“You can have a career with animals that isn’t veterinary,” Phoebe Stanley, of Vitakraft Sunseed said.
Stanley and Brent Weinmann, CEO of the company, weren’t offended that “Poundcake” got more attention than they did. “They are more interested in the guinea pig,” Stanley said of the students.