CPTC Computer Programming instructor Ken Meerdink leads a breakout session showcasing the "Donkey Car" built by the his program to transform ordinary remote control cars into autonomous vehicles.
CPTC Computer Programming instructor Ken Meerdink leads a breakout session showcasing the "Donkey Car" built by the his program to transform ordinary remote control cars into autonomous vehicles.

Manufacturing Day Provides Hands-On Opportunities for Students

October 10, 2018

As one of Clover Park Technical College’s seven schools, Advanced Manufacturing is a key component of the college’s offerings. The college had the opportunity to showcase those programs at its annual Manufacturing Day event on Friday, Oct. 5, with 500 local high school students in attendance to learn about the possibilities of a career in manufacturing.

Twenty different schools sent students to the event, plus the REACH Center and CPTC’s own Transitional Studies program. Most of the participants were high school juniors and seniors taking classes in manufacturing, information technology, architecture and construction, and engineering. For the second year, The Boeing Company served as the lead sponsor and provided lunch to guests along with support organizing the event.

“Manufacturing Day is a nationwide celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of creators, builders, and producers,” said CPTC instructional Design Specialist Rich Hines, who led the event planning. “Rather than just putting on lectures and lab tours, we wanted to present hands-on activities that would capture students’ imaginations and offer a glimpse of how exciting and fast-moving modern industry is. We felt that it was important for our guests to experience the kind of education we provide at CPTC and hear directly from employers about the rich variety of career pathways in manufacturing.”

After an all group activity to open the day, students had a chance to attend a number of breakout sessions based on different aspects of manufacturing and programs at CPTC. Some of the session options included manipulating a Universal Robotics UR5 to see how frontline manufacturing workers program a robotic arm, flying “mini-drones” to achieve missions while learning about the business applications of unmanned systems technology, tour a modern building facility to see how systems and controls in industry today are used in building, and more. Students had time to visit three separate sessions.

“Our visiting students were highly engaged,” Hines said. “I had a chance to walk around and see students at different breakout sessions, and I was struck by how attentive they were. Our presenters did an excellent job of meeting the students where they were but also using the activities as a gateway to introduce more advanced concepts.”

Presenters for the sessions included a blend of CPTC programs and clubs as well as external partners. Several employers also set up displays in the “Skills Fair” area of the event to show how manufacturing can lead to different careers. Following the breakout sessions, attendees came back together for lunch and a final session that included guest speakers Michelle Burreson and John Turner from Boeing, CPTC Vice President for Instruction Mabel Edmonds, and Washington State Representative Steve Kirby, who is the chair of the House Committee on Business & Financial Services.

Manufacturing Day is an annual collection of events nationwide in early November that began in 2012 in an effort to address common misconceptions about manufacturing. CPTC’s event last year included just under 200 total guests, so Friday’s event nearly tripled last year’s attendance. Hines also said that numerous high school teachers and counselors visited CPTC for the first time and were impressed by the college’s hands-on approach to education and Manufacturing Day. He hopes to continue that engagement with future events.

“CPTC is the ideal pathway for many local young people to enter well-paying skilled jobs,” Hines said. “It’s the shared work of our college and our K-12 partners to find who these students are and assist them in enrolling programs that are a great fit. We don’t just want to think of this event as a one-day thing; it needs to be part of a continuous series of interactions and engagement that go on throughout the year.”

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CPTC Mechatronics students lead a breakout session showcasing the Universal Robotics UR5.
Washington State Representative Steve Kirby addresses the Manufacturing Day attendees during the closing session.