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Inspiring the Next Generation of STEM Workers During North County Manufacturing Day 

North County employs over 1.2 million workers in industries such as life science, telecommunications, software development, medical devices, sporting equipment, and so much more. Additionally, this job market keeps growing with 54% of the workforce in North County employed in the manufacturing sector, up 27% since 2012. On October 1, manufacturing companies from around North County gathered to promote Manufacturing Day at Cal State San Marcos. 

For over 10 years, this national event has been held during the first week of October to celebrate and showcase the many modern manufacturing careers available to young adults around the country. Industrial businesses around the U.S. celebrate National Manufacturing Day by educating their local communities on the impact of industry, the value of manufacturing, and the exciting, diverse opportunities of a modern industrial career. Students are invited to participate in local open house events or exhibits that feature the various manufacturing companies in their area. The intention is to educate students on the many opportunities in their hometowns and give them insight into the type of training and education they need to pursue these job opportunities.

Student attending Manufacturing Day 

Escondido’s economic development manager Michelle Geller explains, "Escondido is home to some of North San Diego County's most notable companies in the manufacturing sector, including Kiesel Guitars, Meziere Enterprises and One Stop Systems. Celebrating manufacturing on a special day each year reminds everyone that there are a lot of important, innovative products being made right here in our city."

For the past two years, the North County Manufacturing Day Expo has been held at Cal State San Marcos and has had an attendance that reaches 1,200 middle school and high school students from across the county. This year, students participated from as far as Warner Springs and Grossmont with the majority from Oceanside, Carlsbad and other North County school districts. Schools from Escondido included Valley High School and Orange Glen.

North County industries such as Hunter Industries, Creative Electron, General Atomics, Genentech, and Nordson Corporation as well as schools such as Palomar College, Mira Costa College, and Cal State San Marcos were there to speak to students and answer questions.

Creative Electron booth at Manufacturing Day Expo

Hunter Industries Incorporated Senior Manager of Global Talent Management, Scotty Lombardi sees this event as an opportunity to reach out to young talent who are interested in learning more about his company. “We participate to inspire the next generation to pursue jobs in STEM, manufacturing, and engineering. Our future workforce needs are dependent upon the ever-lasting relationships we’re building today. The Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo connects students to what’s being made, and to careers, right here in our own backyards.”

Student at Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo

The event’s organizer was Erik Bruvold, CEO of the San Diego North County Economic Development Council. Bruvold works with North County companies to help promote economic growth in the region, market its development, work with individual companies one-on-one to meet their goals, and to work with educators and local employers to create pipelines that ensure a strong and growing workforce in North County.

When asked why this event is important to the area, Bruvold explained, “This gives companies an opportunity to give back to the community through outreach and to engage with a future workforce. It gives students an opportunity to see the breadth and depth of manufacturing in North County.” 

Students playing VR at Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo

For students looking for inspiration as they consider their post-graduate futures, the impact of Manufacturing Day is influential. In 2018, “275,000 people participated in 3,000 MFG Day events across North America,” according to  MFG Day. “More than 80% of students said they became more convinced that manufacturing provides interesting and rewarding careers after attending these events.”

While the traditional Manufacturing Day model is to hold open houses, the North County event brought nearly 30 manufacturing companies to the Cal State San Marcos campus. This model eases concerns about capacity, safety, and sensitive work or trade secrets that might make the open house model difficult for some, while also putting multiple organizations in one place, making it easier for students to be introduced to several industries and companies at one time.

Student and a life science company representative at Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo

The free event hosted companies that ranged from life science manufacturers to telecommunications and software companies, and to advanced manufacturing firms. Each company was assigned its own station to promote the business. Some created hands-on exhibits that engaged the students directly, while others brought representatives from various departments such as human resources or marketing to address the needs of their companies. Several included videos, marketing brochures, and takeaways as part of their exhibit. With so many students, the event was split into morning and afternoon sessions. 

Student interacting at Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo

These exhibits gave San Diego students education to the types of future jobs that might be available to them, including software engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical, and biomedical engineering as well as mainline manufacturing positions such as technician jobs and design of new products.

Calsens displaying at Manufacturing and Engineering Day Expo

New this year was a presentation by the College of Math and Science from Cal State San Marcos that addressed the STEM undergraduate work at the university. For some of the students, this was the first time they have ever visited a university campus and the afternoon presentation gave them a clearer understanding of the importance of higher education as well as the benefits that STEM learning can bring to future careers. 

Bruvold said this presentation was very well received. “I think a highlight for the students was getting to hear from current undergrads who are just a few years older than the high school students and understanding how they are succeeding in STEM.”

Bruvold added the turnout was fantastic and the overall day’s events came together very well with positive feedback from both the exhibitors, students, and guests.

For more information about Manufacturing Day or manufacturing companies in North County, visit the San Diego North County Economic Development Center.

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