About 60 students learned more about modern careers in manufacturing and saw how ball screws — used in everything from CT scanners to car transmissions — are created from start to finish.
The students received this close-up look at how modern manufacturing operates as they toured the NSK Precision America facilities in Franklin on Friday as part of Manufacturing Day.
Students also learned about safety requirements for manufacturing facilities, participated in team-building exercises and heard information about the types of manufacturing careers available in Johnson County.
Jo LaBounty, a manufacturing instructor with the Central Nine Career Center, was there with some of her students. Central Nine allows high school juniors and seniors to take manufacturing and other technical classes in high school.
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The tour was a good opportunity for the students to see how manufacturing works, she said.
Some concepts and lessons are harder to explain in the classroom and are better experienced first-hand, LaBounty said.
As part of a team-building exercise, students had to build a structure out of Lego bricks, but only one student per team was allowed to look at the instructions and direct the rest of the team as they built it.
The goal was to show students how builders, engineers and quality control all play different roles in the manufacturing process, NSK human resources manager Michelle Hawking said.
The tour and event gave students an inside look at what a local manufacturing facility is like.
“It shows them it is not a stuffy or dingy place,” NSK human resources generalist Erin Bieger said.
Paul Lundguard, a Greenwood Community High School sophomore, is considering a career in engineering or manufacturing. The manufacturing work was fun and interesting to see, he said.
Lundguard is taking several classes, including one about advanced manufacturing, at his high school.
Students who take manufacturing classes through their high school or programs such as Central Nine are often better prepared for manufacturing jobs because of what they have already learned, Bieger said.
Manufacturing relies heavily on technology now, Bieger said.
She presented students information about what manufacturing careers could be like.
“There are opportunities in Johnson County,” she said.
While some jobs in manufacturing fields require bachelor’s or associates degrees, many are open to students who have only a high school diploma, Bieger said. New employees at NSK often have a range of experience, from high school diplomas to college degrees, she said.
Students who go into manufacturing fields right after high school still have options to advance their careers, said Kristi Mann, director of education and workforce programs for Conexus Indiana.
Instead of taking on debt prior to beginning their career, students can start working and continue their education, she said.
Also during the tour, NSK engineer Chuck Barnett led a safety demonstration using a machine he had built to show what can happen if a worker isn’t careful and gets a hand or other body part trapped.
In the demonstration, a glove became trapped in a chain and was then smashed, causing some of the students to wince. It was a reminder that the right precautions must be taken at all times around machinery, Barnett said. He walked students through some of the safety steps for turning machines on and off.
Almost everything employees do on the manufacturing floor has a specific step-by-step process intended to keep them safe, Barnett said.