More than 575 students attend 2022 Manufacturing Day in Dickinson
“We as freshman seminar teachers feel this is a great experience for our students to explore post-secondary options in the world of manufacturing,” said DHS teachers of event.
DICKINSON — Each year since 2015, the Southwest North Dakota Manufacturers Solutions Group, in partnership with the Greater North Dakota Chamber, hosts Manufacturing Day in Dickinson. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Biesiot Activities Center was packed with more than 575 students and a host of area manufacturers and centers of higher learning for the 2022 iteration.
Dickinson High School is an annual participant in the event, using the opportunity to expose students to the world of manufacturing. This year DHS brought their freshman students to engage with area industry leaders from the “Big 5” manufacturing companies of Fisher Industries, Baker Boy, Steffes, TMI and KMM.
“We as freshman seminar teachers feel this is a great experience for our students to explore post-secondary options in the world of manufacturing,” teachers at DHS said of the event.
The event, affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute’s Dream It Do It program, was launched in 2015.
“The Dream It Do It program consists of young professionals from Dickinson’s “Big 5” manufacturing companies…each promoting manufacturing careers amongst the Southwest ND youth,” Eric Kittelson, marketing and product information director with Fisher Industries, said. “The program was started to reach out to area students and provide them with the information that there are several great career opportunities in manufacturing right outside your door.”
Kittelson added, “We are trying to keep our area youth around and not lose them to the eastern side of the state or further.”
According to recent industry studies, an entire generation of skilled employees are expected to enter retirement in the next five years and in so doing are projected to spawn a manufacturing industry labor shortage of nearly 3.5 million positions by 2025.
“One of our main topics of discussion and promotion with our Dream It Do It program, is informing the students that within the next 5 years there will be millions of jobs available in manufacturing. Not only a lot of jobs, but great paying jobs as well,” Kittelson said. “Recruiting employees and trying to compete with the salary and benefits of oil companies right now is a difficult task. We use our Dream It Do It program and our Manufacturing Day Event to reach out to the students early. If we can get students to remember our companies at these events then when they are older and searching for a career and Fisher Industries pops up for ‘Now Hiring,’ they may say, ‘Hey, I remember Fisher Industries from Manufacturing Day, I’ll apply there!’
With the advent of new technologies, the manufacturing industry finds itself in need of fewer employees than even a decade ago, yet the employees sought are increasingly expected to enter the workforce with a growing and different set of skills than their forebears of years past.
As manufacturing becomes more automated, partnerships with centers of higher education and promotional programs like Dream It, Do It seeks to foster the next generation of manufacturing professionals.
“We have a successful relationship with statewide Universities, Colleges, Trade schools in NDSCS, BSC, NDSU, DSU and Lynnes Welding Training. As our event continues to grow we continue to invite others,” Kittelson said. “As the processes of how products are manufactured continues to change, due to technology and automation, so does the need for training in different skill sets…With the rise of automation, an individual with a computer science degree and love for programming could be a manufacturing company’s product manager with no background in mechanical processes.”
The event features a variety of hands-on activities for students to engage with, from using power tools and assembling and dis-assembling a bearing housing to controlling a robotic dog, designing an object for a 3D printer, or simulating a weld on a piece of angle iron.
“It’s a unique opportunity for students to participate in many manufacturing hands-on activities and hopefully gain a better understanding of what the manufacturing sector presents,” Kittelson said. “Everyone associates manufacturing jobs to be the “dirty” jobs like welders, laborers and diesel mechanics, but forget about all the departments that help complete organizational teams like HR, IT, Sales, Safety, Engineering, Accounting and Marketing.”
Kittelson added, “Many students in high school don’t know what they want to do in the future after high school and our Manufacturing Day Event can assist students with finding that next venture whether it’s heading off to college, attending a trade school or diving straight into the workforce.”
The 2022 event was a resounding success as roughly 575 students engaged with industry experts, a far cry from when the first event was held in 2015 and featured an attendance of only around 200 students.
“Speaking on behalf of parents, I would be thrilled that my child is attending events such as our Manufacturing Day Event and recognizing all the different options out there. I always say this but I wish we had these types of events back when I was in high school,” he said. “Probably would have persuaded me to look towards a different direction than what I chose as a senior in high school.”