EDINBORO, PA (April 17, 2018) – General McLane High School students will soon gain an inside perspective of manufacturing through shadowing opportunities provided by local manufacturing companies. This opportunity is part of the GMHS Manufacturing Academy.
The GMHS Manufacturing Academy’s goal is preparing the next-generation workforce for a career in the manufacturing industry through seminars and on-site training.
“This Academy will meet the needs of both students and our community region,” said General McLane High School Guidance Counselor and Academy Chair Gary Astorino. “There are students who have the interest and ability to obtain a career in the manufacturing industry and, through the utilization and consultation of manufacturing companies, we are going to provide these students with a career-ready education so they can tackle today’s workforce challenges.”
Students started shadowing experiences this month with Plastikos, Inc., a world-class custom injection molding company that specializes in small precision parts, with business in the medical industry. Plastikos has consistently been recognized at the top of the plastics industry winning various awards in recently years including Plastics News North American Processor of the Year in 2010 and Plastics News Sustained Excellence in 2016. The company, which is located off Oliver Road by LORD Corporation and Family First Sports Park, was the first on board for the project with General McLane High School.
The shadowing experiences will give students time in tooling, manufacturing and quality departments within the company. Some of the positions they will be shadowing include: tool maker, change over technician, tooling engineer, material handler, process technician, process engineer, quality inspector, lead inspector and quality engineer.
A 2014 Erie Regional Career Readiness Report reported manufacturing as the largest industry in Erie with more than 22,000 employees.
“We know that local manufacturers are facing many openings as baby boomers retire,” said General McLane superintendent Richard Scaletta. “At General McLane, we are eager to work in close partnership with local companies to provide a stream of candidates to replace these retirees. With the right system in place, we can serve as a ‘farm team’ for our manufacturing partners.”
Through this career-readiness model, General McLane will produce students well-prepared for the Erie workforce.
“Speaking not only for us, but for other manufacturers all around the United States, everyone has the same concern on the skills gap coming within their organizations if concerted efforts are not made to address this” said Plastikos Co-Owner and Manufacturing Manager Rob Cooney. “College is not for everyone and much of what we do is to grow our own talent for our technical careers so getting the right people to bring in at the entry-level is extremely critical for Plastikos to continue its success within the plastics industry. We are investing in high school students to see if this is something they can envision for themselves.”
Manufacturing also leads Erie in wage contribution. By developing an interest in students early on, Astorino said the hope is that they can gain a concentrated exposure to all that manufacturing has to offer providing them with the motivation and technical skills to secure a viable job after graduating.
Freshmen, sophomores and juniors have the opportunities to participate in group seminars and attend Plastikos Manufacturing Day. Additional manufacturing events will also be held throughout the year, allowing students, parents and educators to meet face-to-face with Plastikos representatives.
Students will gain experience in three areas of the industry: manufacturing, tooling and quality. Through these experiences, they will also be exposed to Plastikos’ state-of-the-art robots, cameras, CT scanning and other automation.
“We are happy to open our doors and have tours to educate parents and students on what manufacturing is all about today,” Cooney said. “It’s not the dirty, grungy, grimy thing that many people perceive it to be. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that. It’s cutting edge and high tech, with robotics, computers and automation.”
The two organizations are reviewing the potential for field experience as students advance in their education. This would provide General McLane students the opportunity to learn technical knowledge directly from Plastikos employees and be prepared before they graduate from high school for a rewarding long-term career.
Although Plastikos was General McLane’s first partner, there are other manufacturing companies participating in the GMHS Manufacturing Academy. These companies include: General Partitions Manufacturing Corporation, PHB, Inc., The Plastek Group, Greenleaf Corporation, Reddog Industries, Inc.
General McLane School District offers a variety of programs and classes to empower students with 21st century skills for today. Through the Academy of Medical Arts and Engineering, GMHS Manufacturing Academy, the GMHS Art Academy and innovative entrepreneurship programming, General McLane’s curriculum is tailored to meet students’ interests and joins our many STEM-focus programming. Our robust offerings provide students opportunities to utilize our STEM Lab, which includes 3-D printers, CNC machines and CAD software.
General McLane School District serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in Franklin, McKean and Washington Townships, as well as the borough of McKean and Edinboro. The District also serves tuition students throughout Erie County.
To learn more about Plastikos, visit plastikoserie.com. To learn more about General McLane School District, visit generalmclane.org.