IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – In Dickinson County, Bay College West hosted 300 high school students from five area schools in Michigan and Wisconsin for Manufacturing Day. Local industries like Loadmaster and Grede Foundries have the students immersed in hands-on learning.
At least two classrooms were fully immersed in hands-on learning activities. Some high school students were caught throwing paper airplanes in class, but it was all a part of giving students an opportunity to explore working in the professional trades.
Kingsford and Norway students were the first on the scene to take part in this year’s Manufacturing Day. Other schools expected to take part in the day’s activities were Iron Mountain, North Dickinson, and Niagara. Manufacturing Day was spearheaded in part by the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance. Manufacturing Day has been engaging students locally since about 2018, pausing its in-person engagement for a virtual trade day during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The Alliance has been partnering with Bay College, the Dickinson-Iron ISD Tech Center, Michigan Works!, and local manufacturers like Boss Snowplow, CCI Systems, and Systems Control to bring this learning platform to Dickinson County. Some of the local industries attending Manufacturing Day are actively looking for new hires.
The educational program is a national program by the Manufacturing Institute that aims to engage the community and youth in exploring the local manufacturing industries. The director of the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance understands the value of local trades in Dickinson County, and Lois Ellis stood right alongside educators and industry leaders alike to manage the hundreds of high schoolers that stormed Bay College West’s campus for their chance to hold their education in their hands while exploring exciting career interests.
Loadmaster and Grede Foundries both found unique ways of piquing the students’ interests in a bold way. Loadmaster is a national manufacturer of garbage trucks based out of Norway that ships all across the country to cities like Minneapolis and Tampa. Their crew designed an activity using the paper planes to teach kids to measure quality control. The Sales and Marketing Manager for Loadmaster, Ethan Brisson, hopes Manufacturing Day will spread awareness of the opportunities that local manufacturing industries, like Loadmaster, can provide.
“There’s a lot of manufacturing in this area, so we’re trying to bring awareness to what’s going on, the different companies that are around here. It’s just basic manufacturing steps and quality control. It’s just an easy activity for them to do in quality control, so we’re kind of doing if they, you know, have messed up airplanes or something like that. Sometimes we have students who’ll just fold the whole stack in half, so we’ll count that at the end. If there’s a whole stack, it will count negatively towards them,” explained Brisson of the activity. The students worked together in groups to build sets of paper planes. The airplane throwing was, of course, the fun part. Before the students were allowed to launch, first, they were required to assess their own group, and then have their builds assessed by an adult. A group winner was announced for each round of the activity.
Grede Foundries is emphasizing the importance of recycling and sustainability as the engineers are providing a live casting demo for the adolescents to dig into.
“We have a small foundry demo where we actually make sand molds and pour liquid tin,” informed Kyle Peterson, an Engineer for Grede Foundries, a local manufacturer of automobile parts, industrial machining, and commercial trucks.
Grede gave the students a few options to pour the liquid tin into molds for their very own casting, and the engineers gave students the opportunity to take home their own mold shaped like the U.P. or other shapes of their choosing.
“Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, cupcakes, fish that they can pick to make, and then they get to take that shape, the actual parts with them. Well, it shows that everything gets recycled. There’s nothing out there that really shows what a foundry is, so we can bring that to them,” remarked Peterson of the choices students got for their casting out of the liquid tin.
For more information about Loadmaster, visit:
For more information about Grede Foundries, visit: