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Manufacturing Day continues to grow in its fourth year

Manufacturing has had a home in Dickinson since before the first oil wells sprang up on the horizon, and that community connection is at its clearest during the annual Manufacturing Day, which in its fourth year is drawing in bigger crowds, more ...

Brad Boyd, business development officer for Impact Dakota, demonstrates to Dickinson High School students a smartphone app that uses augmented reality for training purposes during the Manufacturing Day event Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson, N.D. More than 550 students from across the region attended the event, which allowed students to meet and learn about several southwest North Dakota manufacturing businesses. (Photo courtesy of Dustin Monke)
Brad Boyd, business development officer for Impact Dakota, demonstrates to Dickinson High School students a smartphone app that uses augmented reality for training purposes during the Manufacturing Day event Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson, N.D. More than 550 students from across the region attended the event, which allowed students to meet and learn about several southwest North Dakota manufacturing businesses. (Photo courtesy of Dustin Monke)

Manufacturing has had a home in Dickinson since before the first oil wells sprang up on the horizon, and that community connection is at its clearest during the annual Manufacturing Day, which in its fourth year is drawing in bigger crowds, more students and showcasing the gleaming promise that is modern manufacturing.

"We all participate in what's called 'Dream it, Do it' a nationwide program that's designed to educate kids and high school students as to what today's modern manufacturing is like. I think kids have a perception of how it used to be, but it's not anything like that," Sue Roller, director of human resources for Baker Boy, one of the originators of the event and a local Dickinson manufacturer of baked goods. "We visited many schools in our area and had several presentations to the kids, and the hope is that as time goes on, we'll be able to see the returns of these kids choosing (to go into manufacturing.)"

About 550 students from around the region attended the all-day event, which took place at the Biesiot Activities Center on Wednesday.

Dispelling disheartening preconceptions of what the manufacturing world is like is a big element of the day, with much emphasis placed on how technology has made modern manufacturing plants a far cry from their historic forebears.

"It is no longer the dark, dingy, greasy shop you might remember from the 1950s and 40s. They are clean offices, clean shop floors and everything's computerized and there's precision equipment," said Brad Boyd with Impact Dakota , which helps improve the performance of manufacturers and other industries. "It opens up the eyes of the student to new technologies and new opportunities."

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Boyd is able to utilize "augmented reality" to bring his presentation to life. By merely holding his phone over some still printed images displayed on Impact Dakota 's table, Boyd was able to summon a factory floor to life. Conveyor belts, assembly bays and data readouts pop up on the screen, lifting flat images into 3-D models, asking for user input. With a few button presses, students can customize their creations-a line of drones-by choosing what materials would be used to create them.

Engaging students is a large part of Manufacturing Day, as is the use of "ambassadors," or younger people whom the students can relate to better, to explain or demonstrate the world of manufacturing.

Brittany Dauphineis with Baker Boy is one such ambassador.

"It was great turnout, lots of students, lots of students from out of town, even a lot of college students," she said. "I'd like to think (that we engaged some of them). If we reached a handful, I think that's a success."

She presided over a booth where with a few crafting materials and a bit of gumption, students might assemble gummy bear catapults and fling gelatinous grizzlies as far as physics and the confines of the Biesiot Activities Center would allow.

For students wanting to build something bigger, though, there was a booth advertising welding training. Welding is in high demand in industry today and according to Dave Lynnes, president of Lynnes Welding Training, that demand will not be declining anytime soon.

"There are so many job opportunities right now for welders. The pay has gotten a lot better, the benefits are good," Lynnes said. "Over the next few years, welders will be retiring, so more jobs will be opening up. A lot of high school kids today don't realize the opportunities they have out there."

Lynnes Welding Training offers densely packed welding training-Lynnes said their regimen is almost 80 percent hands-on training in a workshop, with eight-hour days and 40-hour weeks.

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"They can go through our program and in 12 weeks they'd be employable," Lynnes said. "The companies that hire welders, they are going to give them an in-house welding test. When it comes to welding you have to be able to prove your welding skills. Most companies ... want (employees) to have some welding training and welding experience before they come in."

Lynnes said he was impressed by the student interest-and the high turnout.

"I was impressed by the amount of students who came in today and the interest. Some of the kids are sophomores and juniors and they are taking a welding course ... and they are thinking about pursuing a career and hopefully they follow through," Lynnes said. "I was very satisfied with how the day went."

He said he'll be returning to next year's Manufacturing Day.

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Abbey Peterson, the research & development manager at Baker Boy, speaks with Dickinson High School students during the Manufacturing Day event Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson, N.D. More than 550 students from across the region attended the event, which allowed the students to meet and learn about several southwest North Dakota manufacturing businesses. (Photos courtesy of Dustin Monke)

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