Getting interactive with manufacturing
Date: 10/3/2014 through 10/3/2014
HIGHLAND | Students in engineering-related classes at Highland High School heard some tips of the trade during a Manufacturing Day program Friday. Managers from Michigan City-based air-compressor manufacturer Sullivan-Palatek spoke to the group on the day that's set aside nationally to promote American manufacturers and careers in manufacturing. "My background in engineering started at about your age," Richard Miltenberger, engineering manager for industrial products at Sullivan-Palatek told the gathering. He encouraged the students to think about their futures, and how what they're doing now will impact them. "If you don't get that education, life will pass you by," he said. Miltenberger focused on matching one's personality and skills to a career. At Sullivan-Piatek, employees might be in the office doing graphics and design work, or managing the production process in the plant, or dealing directly with customers. "It's important early on you try to find that path," he said. And, "you need to show you can learn," Miltenberger said. However good you are at your job, "you're going to be called on to do it better tomorrow." Proving one's ability to learn and adapt beings early. "Everything your doing today will tell us how well you're able to learn," he told the students. Miltenberger talked about the degree of precision needed from the start of the manufacturing process to the end, and the duties of engineers in manufacturing. He said engineers at companies like Sullivan-Palatek start at about $40,000 a year out of college. In the meantime, students interested in engineering should learn to use software like Microsoft Excel and computer-assisted drafting programs, and to find summer jobs anywhere in a company that employs engineers, even "pushing a broom." Scott Newcomb, director of plant operations at Sullivan-Palatek, told the students to focus on the basics: attendance, attitude, appearance and attentiveness. A variety of local Manufacturing Day events, including the one in Highland, were sponsored by the Center of Workforce Innovations as part of its Ready NWI program, which seeks to align education with employers' future needs. "We thought it was important to build awareness about manufacturing careers in Northwest Indiana," said Sandy Alvarez, business consultant at the center. The organization has arranged tours of manufacturing companies for school counselors, including a recent one to Sullivan-Palatek, and was part of a variety of Manufacturing Day activities at area high schools. Highland High School Principal Patrick Weil said the school's focus "is to do everything we can to prepare kids for both college and careers." He said the school is particularly interested in providing a foundation that will bring students back to Northwest Indiana after graduation. Information about the Ready NWI program and tools for teachers, parents and others to use are available at readynwi.com.