Students will learn about today’s manufacturing careers at expo

While manufacturing is experiencing what many economists describe as a renaissance, it also is in the midst of what some in the industry call an identity crisis.

Organizers of a career expo this week hope to change that by showing a new generation of workers what manufacturing is — and isn't. The expo, Manufacture Your Future, will take place Friday, April 5 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Platt Technical High School in Milford.

Outdated views of the industry

Karen Wosczyna-Birch of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing in Connecticut said students thinking about potential careers, along with adults who influence their decisions — such as parents, teachers and school counselors — often have outdated views of manufacturing.

“They picture a dirty, noisy factory floor with low-skill production-line jobs,” she said. “In fact, today's environment is made up of incredibly sophisticated technologies developed, programmed and operated by highly trained employees."

Skilled workforce is needed

Wosczyna-Birch said Connecticut manufacturers “are innovating and competing on a global scale, and they need a talented, capable workforce to ensure their continued success. This expo helps young people see the possibilities in manufacturing.”

Many manufacturers to participate

The expo, being coordinated by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, will bring together 25 Connecticut manufacturers and 300 students from 12 area high schools for a half-day of exhibits, career and education workshops, and networking.

Participating manufacturers include RC Bigelow Tea, The Lee Co., Producto Moore Tool Co., Schick Inc., Sikorsky Aircraft, Ultra Electronics, and Unilever.

See manufacturing in process

Students will see the manufacturing process in action by watching products being made in Platt Tech's high-end manufacturing center. They also will hear about Housatonic Community College's new advanced manufacturing program in Bridgeport, designed to train highly skilled manufacturing workers.

The expo is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to the Connecticut Community Colleges' College of Technology to establish its Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.