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Students get hands-on at Endress+Hauser forum

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As Anna Muir looked up at four tanks, which combined can hold 2,800 gallons of liquid, she was asked to think of her favorite drink.

Milk, she said.

Then, a manager with Endress+Hauser explained to her that companies have to be able to measure and process hundreds, sometimes thousands of gallons of liquid at a time when making milk and other beverages.

If Anna Muir does well in her math and science courses, the manager explained, she could one day have a job using the equipment necessary to make all kinds of beverages consumed by people all across the country, prompting excitement from the Clark-Pleasant student.

Anna Muir and her brother Jacob Muir, who attend Clark-Pleasant Intermediate and Clark-Pleasant Middle schools, were among 300 students and parents who attended Endress+Hauser’s first annual Community and Career Education Forum for middle school-aged students on Thursday.

At the event, the students and their families had the chance to see Endress+Hauser’s new Process Training Unit, or PTU. The PTU is used to simulate different kinds of processing plant conditions so Endress+Hauser, which manufactures devices that measure and regulate different kinds of liquid, can show clients how they can use those devices.

The unit also can be used for training, and Thursday’s forum gave students the chance to see the kinds of equipment they could use if they want to work in manufacturing.

Students at the forum also met with representatives from local companies, including American Industrial Corp., Caterpillar, Electro-Spec, Heartland Machine & Engineering, Nachi and NSK and others, so they could see what businesses need workers with strong math and science skills.

The event was organized by Endress+Hauser and the Central Nine Career Center. School officials in Indiana and across the state have said over the past year they want to do a better job letting students know earlier about careers that demand strong math and science skills so students will have more time to prepare in middle and elementary school. Thursday’s forum was a chance for students to see learn more about some of those careers.

“This is an industry that any type of engineer, no matter what kind of engineering you like, you can find a place in manufacturing,” Endress+Hauser project group manager Greg Misciki said.

Students from Central Nine and 10 central Indiana middle schools were invited to the forum, including students from Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Greenwood and Indian Creek schools. The 11 schools also received $500 grants, provided by manufacturers in Johnson County, that will be used to pay for math, science and engineering programs, Endress+Hauser spokeswoman Crystal Hunt said.

Central Nine started contacting businesses at the start of last school year because career center officials were concerned that students didn’t know enough about the kind of careers they could get if they started taking intensive math, science and engineering courses earlier in school. Endress+Hauser and the other companies and businesses that attended the forum also want to be sure students know about the kinds of careers available to people with strong math and science skills, especially as they grow their facilities and replace employees who leave, Hunt said in a news release.

Some of the students, including the Muir children, attended because their parents wanted them to start thinking early about potential careers.

Duane Muir, Anna and Jacob Muir’s father, works at Endress+Hauser as a technical specialist for level and pressure products, and he wanted his kids to see the kinds of careers they’ll be able to pursue if they have lots of math and science experience.

“I think it helps open their eyes to the things they use every day,” he said.

Other students, including eighth-grade Danville student Wyatt Swafford, wanted to start narrowing down their options.

Swafford has a cousin who works for Endress+Hauser, and he already knows he wants to study engineering, preferably at Purdue University. During the forum he talked with Endress+Hauser workers about how they use electrical, chemical and other kinds of engineering in their jobs each day.

“(The forum) is very helpful. It kind of introduces you to all kinds of things,” he said.

Students were able to ask questions about and explore the PTU, which was the first time some of the students saw the different kinds of equipment they could use if they pursued careers in manufacturing.

Endress+Hauser sent the middle school students on a PTU challenge, which was a scavenger hunt that had them go through the two-level unit and find devices used to monitor the flow, level, pressure and pH of liquids. This was a way for the students to see how measurements, math and other lessons they’re being taught in school apply in the working world.

Clark-Pleasant Middle School student Alex Reed wasn’t always sure where the gauges he was supposed to find were or what they looked like, but he appreciated the chance to see what kinds of equipment he’ll work with if he becomes an engineer.

Reed, an eighth-grader who’s earning high grades in his math and science courses, is considering becoming a mechanical engineer so he can design cars. School officials at Clark-Pleasant recommended he attend the forum so he could learn more about the skills and tools he’ll need and use if he becomes an engineer.

“If you choose this career, (the forum) tells you what you’re going to be doing,” he said.

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