Manufacturers show off high tech tools to lure future generation of workers

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Manufacturers across the country opened their doors to let young people see what the industry is really like on Thursday.

Tyler Thompson, Manufacturing Fabrication Manager at Rockford’s 425 Manufacturing, located at 5004 27th Avenue, got to play ‘tour guide’ on Thursday as two dozen children stopped by his family business.

The company participates in National Manufacturing Day, held on October 10th each year.

“We go through the shop and basically tell them what it’s all about, the processes, the materials that we use, all of the machines that we operate, and the career opportunities that we have out in the shop,” Thompson said.

There were similar scenes all over the region as students from South Beloit and Stillman Valley made visits to local manufacturers.

“It was pretty cool,” said Spectrum 8th grader, Diana Bonds. “They have one where they just cut up metal, and there’s one for the round stuff. They have somewhere where they spray painted. They had 3D printing, and one for precise measuring.”

The goal of the day is to expose kids to career paths they may not have otherwise considered.

“When you’re in school, a lot of people are pushing colleges and things like that,” Thompson said. “Sometimes college isn’t for everybody, so there’s a lot of kids out there that are going to go into the labor force.”

The 3D printer was a big hit with the visitors.

“It was really cool how they were printing out Iron Man,” said 7th grader Vayda Daughenbaugh.

Nolan Lawson, also a 6th grader at Spectrum School, said, “My favorite part was, I think, the Iron Man helmet and the artificial hands or arms.”

425 Manufacturing does a lot of what’s called “additive manufacturing,” an operation that’s pretty high tech.

Augmented reality is also part of the process.

People in the industry say technology like that helps inspire manufacturing’s future leaders.

“They don’t know there’s a lot of jobs out there in accounting, or painting, welding, machining, things like that,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of openings that we can’t find people to fill them.”

Nearly 20 local businesses participated in this year’s Manufacturing Day event. Students followed up their shop tours with an expo and round-table discussion at the Radisson Hotel, at 200 S Bell School Road.

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