Hundreds of Miami Valley students got a taste of manufacturing this week during a special spring Manufacturing Day at one local company.
United Grinding North America in Miamisburg, part of the Swiss-based CNC grinding equipment manufacturer, hosted 200 students on Thursday morning in partnership with the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association (DRMA) and Montgomery County Educational Service Center.
The Dayton region is a manufacturing powerhouse — evidenced by having the No. 1 highest participation rate nationally for students and manufacturers during Manufacturing Day, held every year in October. In 2019, the local region had 4,700 students visit 60 manufacturers.
Students participated in several "experiences" during their time at United Grinding. This included plant tours with 10 guided stops along the way to learn about the various career paths within manufacturing — from human resources, marketing, information technology, engineering, production and others.
"The idea behind this is to elevate the notion that there are multiple paths you can take inside of the manufacturing industry," said Jacob Baldwin, director of corporate marketing for United Grinding.
Students also got the chance to participate in several hands-on demonstrations, including a grind-your-own part station.
"There's a problem in the manufacturing industry and it's the workforce shortage," Baldwin said. "And it's incumbent on us, United Grinding as manufacturing leaders ... to do something about it."
United Grinding's technology portfolio spans eight brands with technologies ranging from CNC grinding, erosion, laser ablation, optical measuring and combination machining equipment. United Grinding has over 200 employees in North America.
Van Henderson, a robotics and automation teacher at Miami Valley Career Technology Center, said the various educational initiatives by DRMA help to get more students into the manufacturing workforce pipeline.
"It's amazing to have a kid come into your class and you start introducing them to this field and they get a little bit of excitement; they get their hands on some stuff," Henderson said. "And they go out and they go to you (manufacturers) and they get a job. You guys can change their whole lives."
Henderson said he's encountered so many children living in poverty who have been able to alter their situations and turn their lives around.
"It's not just providing workers for you, but you're providing careers for these kids," Henderson said.