Manufacturing Expo Highlights
The first Grow Manufacturing Roundtable and Expo on October 2 was a huge success. Over 1,000 students walked away with new knowledge and enthusiasm for manufacturing, as well as many giveaways to remind them of possible careers in this field.
Manufacturers and suppliers started setting up early in the morning at Chico State’s BMU, many with impressively large pieces of equipment in tow. Among them: a large solar panel, a biodiesel tank, an agricultural sweeper, and a jet engine so large it had to sit outside. Companies that participated were:
- Air Spray
- All Metals Supply
- Cal Water
- C Sys Labs, Inc.
- Elite Solar
- Focused Energy Processes
- Graphic Packaging International
- Idea Fab Labs
- InterWest Insurance
- Joy Signal Technology
- Metal Works
- MTECH, Inc.
- Net Controls, LLC
- Nor Cal Vans, Inc.
- Precision PCB Services, Inc.
- Roplast Industries
- Sierra Pacific Industries
- Springboard Biodiesel
- transfer Flow, Inc.
- Weiss McNair
- Woof & Poof
In addition, there were representatives from the education and workforce sectors and student clubs from Chico State and Butte College. The Training Center from Butte College and Chico State’s College of Engineering were crucial partners, as was the Butte County Office of Education.
The purpose of the Expo was to honor local manufacturers and expose students to the world of advanced manufacturing. In addition to visiting the exhibit floor, four groups of sixth through 12th grade students were taken on tours of Chico State’s technology labs on campus, led by Chico State manufacturing students.
Two notable attractions were Air Spray’s turbine engine on the plaza in front of the BMU and Las Plumas High School robotics club’s catapult robot that tossed a yoga ball to an excited audience. One young student was overheard exclaiming, “This is the best thing ever!” as she ran after the ball.
Among the many other popular exhibits were the cartridge loading equipment from RCBS, a tire puncture and repair demo by Dynaplug, and several pieces of equipment from the Idea Fab Labs, including a 3D printer. Some exhibitors quizzed the young guests for a chance at prizes.
Each company displayed a job board with the positions they typically hire, the level of education required for each position, and which positions are hard to fill. This was an eye opener for educators as well as students. College students were especially interested in what the companies had to offer, and some companies talked to students about internship or apprenticeship opportunities. Supporting the career-oriented theme, the Alliance for Workforce Development featured laptops with a 15-question career assessment that visitors could take on-site.
The day wound down with sessions oriented to the adults in the audience. A group of high-level executives gathered to discuss Women in Nontraditional Careers, and there were panel discussions on training techniques and workforce / skills gap related issues.
California Manufacturers & Technology Association president, Jack Stewart, addressed the group via video in honor of National Manufacturing Day. Each participating manufacturer received a CMTA certificate recognizing their contribution.
Overall, attendance was more than triple what was expected, making it likely that this will be the “first annual” north state celebration of National Manufacturing Day.