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Companies look to get students excited about manufacturing careers

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More than 400 senior high school students from Greenville County Schools took part in a Manufacturing Day event held Friday at Greenville Tech’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation.

Besides giving students a chance to see things such as robotics, mechatronics and 3D printing, the event gave manufacturers the opportunity to share career options with those students.

Dmitry Kopytin, technical scholar supervisor at BMW Manufacturing Co. (center), shows students how to control a robot arm using a touchpad during a Manufacturing Day event at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation in Greenville. (Photo/Matthew Clark)“Reaching out and showing them the opportunities that are available is a real benefit for companies,” said Cathy Kowalewicz, business development manager for SME, a manufacturing advocacy group. “Seeing the excitement of the professionals and sharing with the students that excitement helps the students see the beauty of manufacturing.”

Students took part in tours of the CMI and some of the 19 participating manufacturing facilities in an effort to excite students about the possibility of a career in manufacturing, said David Clayton, CMI director.

Manufacturing continues to be one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the Upstate with companies adding more than 2,000 jobs in the last year and manufacturing employees earning an average of $55,000 per year, according to data from Upstate SC Alliance.

Dmitry Kopytin, technical scholar supervisor at BMW Manufacturing Co. showed students the different ways automation was used on manufacturing floors. He used a robotic arm controlled by a touchpad to show how workers use the machines to perform an array of tasks.

“We have a lot of kids coming in and out, and we want to get them excited,” Kopytin said.

Eastside High School senior Lisa Avila, said she is still trying to decide what to do after she graduates. She said she used the Manufacturing Day event to better educate herself before making a career choice.

“This is showing me what is out there,” Avila said. “It’s showing me things I can be doing in college.”

Another benefit of the event was showing programs that allow students to work part-time at a manufacturer and go to an area technical college full time, like the BMW Scholars Program and the Michelin Technical Scholars Program.

“If 10% of these kids decided they want to go into advanced manufacturing, and they weren’t sure before, that’s the payoff,” Clayton said.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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