Two teams, The Pirate Robolution of Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Calif. and The TigerBots of Notre Dame High School in Belmont, Calif. attended Manufacturing Day events that included a plant tour, panel discussion with BWG executives and team members and demonstrations of equipment including a 3D printer.

How does this type of event impact the students? Is it worth the time and effort for BWG to offer these events and for students and teachers to attend? All responses were a resounding YES! Below is a Q&A with the two teams on their specific highlights and takeaways from the event.

Tracey Grown, The TigerBots Coach, Notre Dame High School

Q: How does attending an event like MFG DAY impact your FIRST team?
A: Many of our students have never been in a factory before. The girls on the TigerBots were able to see a company and real production, as well as to learn about different organizations within the company e.g. marketing, human resources, engineering, and production.

Meeting Pamela was especially exciting, and she was very encouraging toward the girls, and so approachable!

It was also impactful for the girls to meet other employees at Bishop-Wisecarver and hear about where they became educated and what they studied in college, why internship positions mattered to them, and about their path to their current jobs.

The girls heard information that manufacturing jobs are on the rise and the future jobs will require more education and skill, and that is contrasted with some of the “dis”information they are hearing from other sources in the news currently. It helps them see why education for all is important, that college should be affordable and that high paying jobs in future will most likely have educational requirements.

Q: What were some of the most important takeaways from the day?
A: If I had to narrow it down, I would say:
  • Internships can change your career direction.
  • Mentors are important and we owe it to others to mentor them.
  • Education is fundamental.
  • Women can break through the glass ceiling in manufacturing.

Members of the TigerBots Team

Q: What were some of the most interesting things you saw or heard during the tour?
A: We had so many things to list, but here are a few:
  • Meeting Pamela inspired us! We were impressed hearing how she runs a company, employs people who studied at colleges all over the U.S. and was getting on a plane to fly out to London right after meeting with us. Hearing about her schedule and what it’s like to travel all over the world to meet with customers was good insight.
  • It was cool seeing how the pieces we use to build robots are actually made.
  • We were impressed by the high automation, openness and ease of changeability of the factory.
  • It was interesting to learn about careers in manufacturing and hearing different backgrounds and points of view from marketing, HR and manufacturing.
  • We liked seeing the 3D printer printing reliable pieces and then watching someone put those pieces together.

Q: Did this change or alter your perception of manufacturing in any way?
A: Yes, definitely! We were impressed by how advanced the technology was on manufacturing assembly lines right now. Many of us didn’t completely understand what people with careers in manufacturing do every day. Manufacturing Day helped us gain deeper understanding on the realities of this field, how different parts of the company work together and what they do.

Q: Did this event provide any inspiration for your upcoming FIRST challenge?
A: Getting to know more about the materials we use in our builds is always good. Also, we are getting more excited to use 3D printers for our robots and appreciated BWG offering to give us some technical support if we need it during our build.

Q: Why do you think it is helpful for companies to offer events like Manufacturing Day for students?
A: Manufacturing Day acts as an aid for teens who are looking at careers for their future. Students can explore the area of manufacturing and career paths that they rarely get a chance to hear about such as engineering, consulting, marketing and human resources. It also gives students a deeper understanding on the application of STEM - what we use STEM for, why we build robots, how robots help, etc.

Beth Traub, The Pirate Robolution Mentor, Pittsburg High School

Q: What did you see or hear at the Manufacturing Day event that seemed to have the most impact on the students?
A: Students were impressed with the tools, the skills, and watching the CNC mills work. The most impactful statements were those about average salary, important skills, teamwork and passion. Our robotics students were highly interested in the entire process.

Q: What do you see as the most beneficial reason for bringing your students to events like this?
A: Students need exposure to real world career pathways, real world application of classroom skills, and teambuilding / teamwork showmanship. This event enables them to see people like themselves working in a competitive field and as professionals. This also allows them to experience academic vocabulary of tools and technical terms in a non-classroom environment.

With positive comments like these, BWG is confident that the goals of Manufacturing Day are being met and student lives are being changed. We look forward to next year and hearing new students say, “I had no idea there were so many career paths in manufacturing!”