Come for MFG Day, Stay for the Relationship with Future Workers

Dee-Zee Inc. holds a Manufacturing Day lunch and tour in 2017.

Iowa’s nationally renowned campaign to encourage the statewide celebration of national Manufacturing Day has gotten a slight makeover in 2018—with new people leading Iowa State University’s efforts and an increased emphasis on reaching out to children and educators.

More than 8,000 Iowans attended nearly 150 events last October as part of the annual commemoration of American manufacturing. CIRAS worked with a host of civic and professional agencies— including community colleges, Elevate Iowa, the Iowa Area Development Group, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Iowa Workforce Development—to coordinate and schedule the events.

In 2018, the CIRAS portion of the effort is being overseen by Camille Sloan Schroeder, program manager of K–12 Outreach for Iowa State’s College of Engineering, and CIRAS economic development program manager Mark Reinig.

Among other things, Sloan Schroeder’s office currently oversees Iowa’s involvement in FIRST LEGO League, engineering kids’ camps, and related outreach.

“My goal is to get more awareness not only from the communities that have done Manufacturing Day in the past, but also in making it more systemic,” Sloan Schroeder said. “We’re trying to connect to the K–12 audience in a broader way.”

Sloan Schroeder said she has tried to encourage company involvement by putting together prepackaged flyers, agendas, and invitations for companies to use in promoting certain types of “MFG Day” events. Such steps “make it less intimidating,” she said. “We want to take away any sort of barriers that keep people from saying yes.”

Companies, using a new lesson plan that Sloan Schroeder created, also have been encouraged to connect with Iowa classrooms to talk about manufacturing careers and the opportunities that are available in Iowa factories. The focus of the outreach has been on building relationships—regardless of whether companies are able to take part in an October event.

“This isn’t something that people have to just do in October,” she said. “People can celebrate manufacturing all year long.”

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A version of this article was published in the Summer 2018 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.