SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Some 1,000 high school students descended on the Ozarks Technical Community College on Friday for the first I-Create Manufacturing Career Day, an opportunity for them to learn about the vast world of advanced manufacturing . The day-long program began with a ribbon-cutting and proclamation ceremony by Springfield Mayor Mike McClure, followed by students who had the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities and demonstrations.
Several community partners made the event possible, including the Manufacturers Association of Missouri, Technical Community College of the Ozarks, Missouri State University, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, SMC Packaging and the City Workforce Development Department housed at the Missouri Job Center.
The event was held at OTC’s new Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a $40 million, 120,000 square foot facility whose goal is to train the Ozarks workforce for the jobs from the future.
“It’s a game-changer,” said Robert Randolph, executive director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center. “The economic impact of the plaster fabrication center is over $430 million over the next ten years, which will truly improve the outlook for fabrication in our region. »
“We need to rebrand manufacturing and manufacturing careers,” added Michael Eaton, executive director of the Springfield-based Missouri Association of Manufacturers. “A lot of manufacturing jobs today are ones that don’t require a shower at the end of the day. And we hope these students can come to this event, make connections, and see a solid career path where they can learn these skills and go straight to an incredibly paying job. The goal moving forward after this freshman event is to have events like this across the state.
Looking around you can tell this is not your grandfather’s manufacturing industry.
Robotic devices and 3D printing are the wave of the future and students stop at areas labeled “IT Infrastructure”, “Cybersecurity” and “Mechatronics”.
“We have a rapid prototyping lab, a visualization lab where we work with virtual reality, and we have the precision machinery lab,” Randolph pointed out.
Precision machinery is an ever-evolving field of manufacturing where raw materials are precisely shaped into finished products.
“We use 12,000 RPM rotary cutting tools and can make just about anything,” said Robert Wise, OTC Manufacturing Lab Manager. “They are used to make all kinds of products and parts and what a lot of people don’t realize is that machining affects everything in our daily lives. Almost everything we touch and deal with is fabricated in one way or another by this equipment.
The prototyping lab has 23 3D printers of all types and from medical to construction, 3D printers are popping up everywhere.
“They’re using 3D printers to print heart valves and anything like that out of titanium,” said OTC Drawing and Design Instructor Ryan Friend. “As for the printing companies, they use huge machines to spread cement in layers when they build apartment complexes. This type of technology is really taking off. It used to be treated like magic happening, but now you can buy these relatively cheap printers at $500 or less and do it yourself.
“I was in St. Louis a few weeks ago at a facility where they had the largest 3D printer in North America,” Eaton added. “It could hold about five or six people inside.”
As for the students, the day offered a great opportunity to learn and have fun as well as to find a possible career opportunity.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff here,” said Blue Eye High School senior Jadon Weaver. “Everyone is nice here and they point you in the right direction which definitely takes the stress away.”
However, his classmate Cayden Murray, a junior, admitted that seeing all the robotic technology was a bit disconcerting.
“It’s kind of scary because it could take my job,” he said of the increase in automation.
“It’s going to take over the world,” Weaver added with a laugh.
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