OMIC’s ‘Manufacturing Day’ grows to become the largest in Oregon
It was like watching kids in a candy store. Except in this example the store was a state-of-the-art research and development facility for advanced manufacturing.
In October, more than 350 excited high school students took part in the second annual “Manufacturing Day” at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) facility in Scappoose. There were live demonstrations of 3D printing, laser cutting and virtual welding, as well as the latest advanced manufacturing machines and tools. With more than 25 local companies and educational institutions on hand, the students could plan out their future training and career paths.
“It’s a good opportunity to see what’s out there because most kids don’t know what they’re going into when they come out of high school,” said St. Helens High School junior Jillian Hogan, 16, who wants to be a software engineer.
“Manufacturing Day” attracted 100 more attendees than last year’s event, making the Columbia County event the largest of its kind in Oregon. And school districts from as far away as Central Oregon attended.
“Every time I’m here there’s more to see and more to learn,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, who visited the inaugural event in 2018. “As someone who works on education issues, I know that not everyone learns the same way or is on the same educational path. People go into the trades and know that they can get a good job.”
The entire day is a community collaboration that is a result of strong ties between OMIC R&D, PCC, and the community. OMIC R&D itself is a partnership of industry, higher education and government organizations who are developing new tools, techniques and technologies to address near-term manufacturing challenges through applied research and advanced technical training.
“OMIC is a collaboration among a group of world class companies,” State Sen. Betsy Johnson told the students. “These companies are getting you excited about being a part of what they do. And, we are really excited about having you leave here being excited about your future.”
Nearby, PCC is planning a Training Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing to cultivate Oregon’s next generation of workers. The center will be focused on advanced manufacturing and house such programs as computer numerically controlled operation, machining, industrial fabrication and mechatronics.
The aim of PCC’s center is to help close the skills gap by offering training that combines on-the-job training with classroom and lab instruction, in an innovative apprenticeship model. Students can complete an apprenticeship program and an associate degree or certificate leading to an advanced degree.
“OMIC will be transformational for Columbia County, and the future training center will provide workers with the classroom and on-the-job learning they need to fill high-demand, good paying jobs,” said Andrew Lattanner, director of the PCC training center.
Eli Powell, a 17-year-old St. Helens senior, is excited about taking more manufacturing classes at his school and at the OMIC training center. Powell was one of many student ambassadors who were on hand to support the event.
“I think it’s really important because it opens people’s eyes to what manufacturing is and what you can do with it,” Powell said. “And it’s not just like going into a big factory and getting dirty and messing with metal. It is a lot more clean and structured. It’s really good for people to see that.”