RPI's 'Manufacturing Day' gets high schoolers hooked on high-tech

October 06, 2017 06:38 PM

TROY - What do race cars, Black Hawk helicopters and robots have in common? They all rely on some pretty high-tech manufacturing processes -- and were just some of the items on hand at RPI on Friday as the campus celebrated "Manufacturing Day."

Hundreds of area high schoolers were invited for an introduction to some exciting, but often overlooked career options.

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Members of the National Guard and their Black Hawk helicopter were the stars of this show. "National Manufacturing Day" at RPI is meant to be a celebration of modern manufacturing - which relies so heavily on STEM and teach the future workforce the role manufacturing plays today. In some cases, even the exhibitors learned a thing or two.

WEB EXTRA: Jerry Gretzinger tours a Black Hawk helicopter

"They actually educated us on the manufacturing process, so that was neat," exclaimed Lt. Col. Brian Hyer with the New York National Guard.

About 250 area high school students attended various talks and demonstrations. Most of these kids have already indicated a strong interest in STEM careers, but hadn't considered manufacturing as an option.

"I am interested in engineering. I don't know manufacturing necessarily, but I am interested in widening my horizons and I like engineering because I like the problem-solving aspect of it," noted Arlyss Herzing, a senior at Averill Park High School.

"I really don't know what I want to be yet," admitted Trevor Collins, a junior at Averill Park High School. "Right now, this just looks interesting in how everything is made basically."

In recent years, studies have shown the current workforce lacks many of the skills that are in demand by today's manufacturers. Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to communicate that demand to young students and the community and explain the importance of the industry and how a STEM education can pay off here.

"There’s a misconception that manufacturing is dark and dingy and old-style, but if you look at it, modern or advanced manufacturing -- biotechnology plays a major role in energy storage," pointed out Shekhar Garde, the dean of engineering at RPI. "Science and engineering has a major role to play in solving the grand challenges facing the world. But if we are going to be successful we want bright young people to join us. We need them."


WNYT Staff

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