|Industrial Programs Department Head Steve Maness speaks area eighth-grade students in the Gene Haas Computer-Integrated Machining Institute on the Asheboro Campus on Friday, Sept. 27. The students toured local industries before participating in hands-on activities in RCC’s machining, mechatronics, and welding labs as part of Manufacturing Day.|
ASHEBORO (Oct. 4, 2019)
Randolph Community College hosted 225 eighth-grade students from nine Randolph County middle schools as part of its annual Manufacturing Day celebration Friday, Sept. 27. The students toured local industries before participating in hands-on activities in RCC’s machining, mechatronics, and welding labs.
|Instructor Samuel Wampler helps a student on the welding simulator.|
|Computer-Integrated Machining Department Head Garrett Parker shows the students what he is going to cut on the water jet.|
|Welding Department Head Michael Ford speaks to students in the welding lab on the Asheboro Campus.|
“Students and many parents are unaware of the products manufactured right here in Randolph County,” Computer-Integrated Machining Department Head Garrett Parker said.
“These products are made using machines that are computerized. It’s not your grandfather’s industry. Industries today are automated, clean, and technical workplaces. We hope that between the industry visit and their visit to RCC, students are getting a different perspective of what manufacturing is. There is a definite interest gap and skills gap across the nation when it comes to manufacturing. We’re addressing both of these with Manufacturing Day and we hope to see these students in four years.”
Before arriving on the RCC campus, the students toured several local plants, including Accuchrome, Elastic Therapy Inc., Energizer, Mohawk Industries, PEMMCO Manufacturing, Phase Change Energy Solutions, Sapona Plastics, and The Timken Company.
The students also learned about College and Career Promise opportunities and Apprenticeship Randolph, which is for high school juniors and seniors. The program begins with a six-week, pre-apprenticeship summer program that consists of two RCC classes and 40 hours per week of on-the-job training. Once a business selects its apprentice after this trial period, the program is spread over four years with students receiving paid, on-the-job training while earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Manufacturing Technology or in Automotive Systems Technology through RCC and a Journeyworker Certificate from the N.C. Community College System and U.S. Department of Labor.
“It wasn’t so much seeing the machines, it was seeing how they work and how they handle everything,” said Southwestern Randolph Middle Schooler Logan Deaton, who notched a 69 on the welding simulator. Deaton also said that, along with having fun, she was glad to learn about Apprenticeship Randolph.
Uwharrie Charter Academy Middle School teacher Obie O’Brien, who teaches woodworking is a former Industrial Maintenance student at RCC, was joined by metals teacher Ian Thomsen. Along with Chief Academic Officer Casey Harris, the three are looking to start a trade school at UCA.
“We want to get it to where we can train them and certify these kids before they get [to RCC], so they have their foot in the door,” O’Brien said. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re trying to lift the stigma. You don’t have to go to college for four years. You can go for two, get your certification, and make a good living.
“I’m passionate about the trades. I’ve built houses my entire life and during the summers when I wasn’t teaching. ... We’ve got to put a hammer, a wrench, something in these kids’ hands so they can make money.”
The participating middle schools were North and South Asheboro, Archdale-Trinity, Randleman, Uwharrie Ridge Six-Twelve, Uwharrie Charter, and Northeastern, Southeastern, and Southwestern Randolph.
Manufacturing Day is held for eighth-graders in the fall with the goal of educating students on careers, pay, and opportunities in area industries as well as opportunities with Career-Technical Education classes and at RCC.
The day is part of North Carolina Manufacturing Week, which was held Sept. 29-Oct. 5, and National Manufacturing Day Oct. 4. The state week helps raise awareness about manufacturing across the North Carolina. According to a release from the office of Governor Roy Cooper, the state is the fifth-largest manufacturing economy in the United States with North Carolina manufacturers contributing $104.9 billion to the gross domestic product. Studies show that for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.82 is generated for North Carolina’s economy.
In 2018, 95 percent of North Carolina’s record-breaking $32.7 billion in exports were manufactured goods, including pharmaceuticals, transportation equipment, aircraft and automotive components, machinery, and technology industries.