Helping Tomorrow's Workforce See a Future in Manufacturing
President and Owner of Pioneer Service, Aneesa Muthana, welcomes Aurora West High School Students to the tour.
On April 11, 2017, Pioneer Service hosted two groups of students at it's facility in Addison, Illinois, courtesy of the Valley Industrial Association (VIA), the Valley Education for Employment System (VALEES), Aurora West High School and Simmons Middle School from East Aurora School District 131. The coordination between the associations and the schools made it possible for another 45 young people to gain exposure to machining as well as career paths available in manufacturing. This provided the students with a unique glimpse into an employer's perspective into career development.
High School Students Consider Their Options
In the first tour, senior high school students from a CAD class were excited to learn how product designers work with manufacturers to make parts. Many of the students liked building and creating things, and manufacturing is the connection between what they are learning in their CAD class, their ideas and reality. One such student shared a project on which he was working that would facilitate the organization of school lockers, making it easier for students to have what they need for each class. The student engagement really encouraged the Pioneer Service team that the next generation will be ready for manufacturing. They had excellent questions, answers and sincere interest about everything from quality, to machining and career opportunities. Eyes lit up when they learned that the average annual salary of a manufacturing worker is over $77,000 annually, which is better than other industries. VP of Operations, Steve Brezwyn explained how if you can find a way to make a company more money, they will pay you more.
"Do you see the tolerances? +/-.0005" is smaller than the diameter of an average hair!" Eric Smith, Director of Sales
Middle School and Manufacturing
"How many of you want to be doctors when you grow up?"
The middle school students from Simmons Middle School in Aurora, Illinois, arrived late in the afternoon, after school. It was clear that they felt very special to see inside a real "factory". Their teacher, Ms. Karen Morris, said that she had shown them the company website and had them prepare questions ahead of time--though there was never any need to prompt for questions! They were split into two groups and spent half the time on the shop floor with Eric Smith, Director of Sales, who gave an overview of production and Yousef Muthana, Quality Inspector, who demonstrated quality inspection equipment. The students spent the other half of their time with Rose of Sharon DeVos, Business Development Manager, engaging with a presentation and discussion on the types of careers available in manufacturing. Mrs. DeVos asked questions like, "How many of you like talking to people?" Hands went up and there was chatter. "Then you might like sales." Other questions followed like, "How many of you like shopping and buying stuff? You might like purchasing!" and "How many of you like building stuff with your hands? Then you might might like making real things on a machine." Then came the question that got the most engagement:
"How many of you like Minecraft?" Every single hand went up. "How would you like to make your virtual world real?" Imaginations were sparked!
Making it real was the focus of engaging these middle school students. You could see their wheels turning as new information was presented. A number of students indicated that they had been told by their parents not to ever get a job in a factory. One explained that his parents said he needed to own his own business to get ahead in life.
"An education is how you begin building your future, like a house, from the bottom up." Rose of Sharon DeVos, Business Development Manager at Pioneer Service Inc.
The managers at Pioneer Service took the opportunity to support the teachers and emphasize how valuable their education is, especially in math, science and writing. They discussed how after high school, education becomes costly. At the beginning of the tour, about 25% of the students said they wanted to become medical doctors. Since one of the managers, Mrs. DeVos had previously been on a medical career track, it was a chance to introduce the concept of how much school would be needed, how old they would be before they were a doctor, and what college debt is, and how that compares to career tracks in manufacturing. Instead of being a medical doctor, students could consider making medical machined parts for medical equipment as a viable option as well!
A CNC Swiss Operator explains how he makes parts.
But most of all, the team emphasized that students should learn to be great at what they like best, and manufacturers like Pioneer Service want people who love what they do. It was a touching moment when Dr. Karen Morris, the teacher, told the students that she taught them because she loved teaching. Even though, after 35 years of teaching, she could retire, she won't.
"I don't say that I go to work each day, but I say I go to school, because this isn't just a job to me, it's what I want to do." said Dr. Morris, Middle School Literacy Teacher
Her passion for her career and explanation was a perfect summary of why manufacturers like those at Pioneer Service do what they do each day.
Manufacturers are makers. They make a difference in the world by providing great things that change people's lives. They strive to make great work environments and, sometimes, they have opportunities to help others, like these students, catch their passion. The team at Pioneer Service was greatly encouraged when Dr. Morris gave her heartfelt thanks and said that the visit could be life-changing for some of her students. Manufacturing isn't for everyone, but everyone should have a chance to at least consider it as a viable option for a bright future, and that is what these tours are all about.