ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Systems is welcoming middle and high school students to its shop floor to dispel myths about the manufacturing industry and encourage young people to consider the field as a career.
Rockford Systems, located at 5795 Logistics Parkway, has spent almost five decades protecting customers and their workers through machine safeguard research.
“These are the critical pieces of equipment for human safety,” said Director of Business Development, Bob Sanderson.
Employees at the company take safety very seriously.
“One of the key differentiators that Rockford Systems has from the rest of the industry is how fast we can make equipment ship,” Sanderson said.
Friday, October 4th is National Manufacturing Day, and the company is showing off what it has to offer to area students, with the hope that it can change some preconceptions about the manufacturing industry.
“[They think] manufacturing is dark and dirty and low tech, and we’re trying to dispel those myths, as are other participants in National Manufacturing Day,” said Carrie Halle, Rockford System’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.
“It’s always a fulfilling experience for the employees of the organization, because we see the students get excited about envisioning their future selves, working in a manufacturing environment,” she continued.
Many of the middle school and high school students who will be visiting will have already looked at options in the field through an academy program or STEM curriculum.
“What we’re trying to do is bring, sort of, reality to their classroom teachings and show them what a real company looks like, what manufacturing really means, and hopefully engage them in pursuing a career in manufacturing,” Halle said.
The company has participated in National Manufacturing Day for three years in a row, long enough to know that it has seen how the tour can make a difference.
“In a previous year, we had a group of girls who were talking to one of our more seasoned female engineers, and she was explaining how, when she was growing up, she was always encouraged to play with dolls,” Halle said. “But she didn’t want to play with dolls. She wanted to take apart toasters and put them back together again.”
One of the girls in that group, Halle said, was 8-months pregnant at the time. Her plan, prior to that conversation, was to have the baby and drop out of school.
“She had the baby and graduated from high school and enrolled in a 2-year technical program, and she is just about ready to graduate and is looking for engineering technician positions,” said Halle. “We get really excited when we hear stories like that, that we might just reach some students and impact them in a positive way.”
Traditionally, National Manufacturing Day is held on the first Friday of October.
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce has its own Manufacturing Day event scheduled for October 10th.
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