A new organization has been set up to connect manufacturers and area school students to discuss and foster an interest in manufacturing.

Manufacturing Day opens the eyes of young people to the world of today’s modern high-tech manufacturing.

“It’s wonderful how everyone can get here and how everyone can have this opportunity to see all these places and possibly get a job when they’re older,” said Zane Hall, a Meadville High School student.

“There’s a lot of interesting stations and stuff — like there’s a virtual welding simulator down there, that’s pretty cool,” said Brody McElhatten, a Warren Area High School student.

“(Are you thinking about manufacturing?) A little bit actually. I think these machines and everything like that is very interesting,” added Naomi Brown, a Corry High School student.

One organization promoting the virtues of manufacturing careers is the Northwestern Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC).

Tara Lawrence is the manufacturing talent stream coordinator for the NWIRC. Her job is to connect students with local industries in search of the next generation of workers.

“I have a group of young manufacturing professionals, we call them the Dream Team. They go out into schools and present career fairs and any kind of experience available. Then, in turn, the students are generally invited to come on a tour of their site, and they can host the students that way as well,” said Lawrence.

The best way to understand what manufacturers do is to see it for yourself.

“The young people are always amazed at what we make in Pennsylvania. I think anyone would be. If you could see the Department of Defense work that I see, the robotics that I see and just knowing that there are companies that have a little piece of the Starbucks foil or NASA. We build products for NASA and have small parts in every automobile that’s out there, all coming from Pennsylvania,” added Lawrence.

The hiring signs are out just about everywhere. Never have there been more opportunities to begin a career in manufacturing, with most companies offering on-the-job training.

“Whether students want to step right out of high school, having not even participated in the vocational center or training available, they can step right out of high school. If they are willing to work hard, to learn, be pleasant and be great to be around, there is a career in manufacturing,”

If you’re a company looking to connect with students, contact the NWIRC to learn more about the Dream Team.