Do you know “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” - SD Manufacturing and Technology Solutions
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Do you know “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

WSCM Awards Ceremony

Have you heard of the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know?” We hear those words as an offhanded excuse when there is a gap in our knowledge or when we don’t know the right questions to ask. Not knowing is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to learn and explore and fill the gap.

Right now, the knowledge gap is manufacturing. How many of us in Watertown and the surrounding area know what our local manufacturers are creating or the career opportunities they have available? It may be easier to explain the opportunities for a store uptown, for a bank or hospital as our accessibility to these businesses is easier and our knowledge of how they operate is greater. If much of the public is unaware of the impact of manufacturing in our community, how is the next generation of our workforce – our students - to know?

When South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions (SDMTS) asked eighth-grade students from across the state “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” They told us…in a video – that they themselves created, live from the manufacturing floor! This fall, South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solution’s “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” video contest will bring together twenty-two schools and/or youth organizations, a teacher-coach from each school and select South Dakota manufacturers for this year’s contest. In its third year, manufacturers and schools in South Dakota have been taking part in this growing initiative to engage, educate and excite the future generation about careers in manufacturing. The contest is part of a nation-wide Dream It. Do It. Program designed to change the perception middle school students have about the manufacturing industry by giving them a firsthand look at what goes on behind-the-scenes. In the past three years, our corner of the state saw participation of schools and manufacturer teams from the communities of Aberdeen, Britton-Hecla, Clear Lake, Watertown and Webster. Watertown Middle School is in its second year of participating in the contest. This year, Arrow students will be learning about what’s so cool at the family-owned sign manufacturer, ESCO. Last school year, The Watertown Middle School Team brought home the Marketing award for their “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” video created at local manufacturer, Benchmark Foam, Inc.

When asked if this program is making a positive impact on the way students view advanced manufacturing careers, the data shows an unequivocal and resounding, yes! Career consideration in manufacturing and positive perception of manufacturing saw an almost a 200% jump in favorability from pre- to post-contest student surveys year after year. It is more important than ever for manufacturers and educators to come together and help our students explore what they don’t know and close the gap between what we think manufacturing is and what it is becoming.

Our students – our future workforce – “don’t know what they don’t know” about the amazing careers, challenges and opportunities that await them in manufacturing careers. It is our responsibility to help them discover as many different paths as we can. Middle school is not too early to begin looking at careers that appeal to them. The earlier students can narrow down the field, the more time they have to explore options and "try them on for size." It is the hope of SDMTS that providing an opportunity to get a glimpse behind the doors of our amazing South Dakota manufacturers that these bright young minds will keep asking the questions about careers in manufacturing, and keep trying to figure out what they “don’t know” about an industry that can provide them with literally a world of opportunity.



Categories: MTS News