In its second year, a program hosted by a Greenwood manufacturer to show local students careers in engineering, manufacturing and science has more than doubled in size.
Endress+Hauser is planning for about 700 to come to its campus next month, including more than 300 seventh- through ninth-graders from every local school district, plus parents, teachers and representatives from local manufacturing and engineering companies.
The Community Career and Education Forum is based on careers involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
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Endress+Hauser, a measuring device manufacturer, is inviting local companies that require workers with a trade or skill to talk with students, offering tours of its own facilities and offering STEM learning labs, where students can weld or use precision machinery, such as drill presses, and experience manufacturing firsthand, Central Nine Career Center assistant director Nicole Otte said.
Central Nine uses the event to introduce students to the numerous engineering, manufacturing and skill-based jobs, such as welding technology and aviation and automotive maintenance, in central Indiana. The goal is to show students career options for after high school right here in Johnson County, Greenwood Community High School guidance counselor Lisa Laug said.
“Today’s job market demands skilled workers in technical fields like engineering and the U.S. manufacturing workforce,” said Brandyn Ferguson, vice president of human resources at Endress+Hauser.
“We found that our community is mostly unaware of the career opportunities right here in their own backyard. Many students and their parents said they believe they need to go elsewhere to find a good job.”
Planning for the event began in February and lasted until August, totaling nearly 2,000 hours of preparation, Ferguson said. Aspire Johnson County, Central Nine, local manufacturers and universities made up the forum’s planning group, Ferguson said.
More than 50 volunteers are needed to run the event, and it costs Endress+Hauser about $10,000. The company also will give $500 classroom grants to schools, which can be use toward STEM education, Otte said.
The forum is free for students. Endress+Hauser and Central Nine want kids to come and feel excited about STEM jobs, Otte said.
Last year, about 150 students came to the event, and this year that number is expected to double.
“We have been blown away by the interest of so many kids,” Ferguson said. “This is helping students learn that a STEM career can be cool and fun.”
Local schools are promoting more options for what their students can do after graduation, which has helped boost interest in the event, school officials said.
In the past seen, going to college after high school was seen as the only viable option for a successful career, but faculty and staff at Greenwood Community High School are working to change that perception, Laug said.
The school has increased its focus on STEM education to connect students to careers in the community. The Endress+Hauser event is a good way to get kids excited about those careers, Laug said.
Local manufacturing and engineering jobs offer good salaries and benefits and provide alternatives to a traditional four-year degree, Laug said.
“I think the focus is shifting from college to these careers, and it needs to do even more shifting,” Laug said. “It starts with the community, faculty and staff encouraging them to look at other options. This forum provides a look at awesome opportunities.”