Discover Manufacturing Week goes virtual for West Michigan high schoolers

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During the week of Nov. 9-13, the career awareness event will showcase modern manufacturing creativity, technology and innovation to students and educators in an interactive way through twice-daily Zoom webinars. Screenshot courtesy West Michigan Works! and Grand Valley State University

Manufacturers from across the region teamed up with West Michigan Works! and Grand Valley State University film students to create a virtual Discover Manufacturing Week experience for West Michigan high school students.

During the week of Nov. 9-13, the career awareness event will showcase modern manufacturing creativity, technology and innovation to students and educators in an interactive way through twice-daily Zoom webinars.

Discover Manufacturing Week is part of the national Manufacturing Day initiative.

“Virtual Discover Manufacturing Week 2020 will look and feel different, but it will continue to provide an opportunity to deepen students’ career exploration,” said Jerry Hill, manufacturing industry lead with West Michigan Works!. “Discover Manufacturing Week celebrates the manufacturing industry with events for high school students that showcase the facilities, technologies and people who make the products that enrich our lives and strengthen our economy.”

Discover Manufacturing Week will host 10 “virtual block parties” — two a day on Zoom. Each event will feature four manufacturers and host up to 3,000 students. The webinars, a combination of employer presentation, facility tour and a Q&A session, will be recorded and uploaded to Discover Manufacturing’s YouTube channel to provide access to a broader group of students and the general public.

“The new virtual format illustrates just how flexible and agile manufacturing can be,” said Laura Preuss, manager of workforce development and human resource at DeWys Manufacturing in Marne. “We get to showcase what we have long known: We are creative, innovative and motivated to better our industry. This year, we as manufacturers can really show that in ways students don’t often get to see.”

According to The Right Place, manufacturing accounts for 15% of all jobs in West Michigan. The region is home to more than 2,500 manufacturers.

“Because the industry plays such an important role in West Michigan’s economy, it’s vital that we provide students with a window into the world of manufacturing,” Hill said. “We’re grateful for all the extra thought and effort our manufacturers have put into creating this unique career exploration opportunity.”

More information on the event is at discover-manufacturing.com.

Scholarship opportunity

Discover Manufacturing is offering six $500 scholarships to high school seniors interested in pursuing a manufacturing-related career in Michigan.

The scholarships may be used for skilled trades training or the pursuit of a manufacturing-related degree from a post-secondary institution in Michigan. Business, accounting, engineering and marketing are examples of degrees that could qualify with language in the essay, tying the degree to a possible career in manufacturing. The awards may be used for tuition, training, equipment (including computers) and other expenses at the discretion of the winner.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Be a high school senior
  • Include their school name and county in their submission
  • Indicate their interest in pursuing a manufacturing-related future in Michigan (educational degree or manufacturing skills training)
  • Answer in 250 words or less what manufacturing means to them, why they wish to pursue a future in manufacturing, and what they intend to use the scholarship for

Those interested can apply to dmcoordinator@westmiworks.org and should include their telephone number and email address. Completed applications must be received no later than Nov. 20.

The Discover Manufacturing Scholarship Committee will review all eligible entries and select finalists based on their answers to the essay question. From the finalists, the committee will vote on each application. The six applications with the most votes will receive scholarships.

Scholarship recipients and their parents/guardians will be notified by a representative of Discover Manufacturing no later than Dec. 2. Scholarships will be awarded in the form of a gift card and presented to recipients during a Discover Manufacturing meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 9.

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