Nicole Thill-Pacheco, Columbia County Spotlight
Hundreds of students visited the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research & Development facility in Scappoose on Friday, Oct. 4, meeting with potential employers and learning about educational opportunities in the trades on Manufacturing Day’s second anniversary.
The Manufacturing Day event, hosted by the R&D site, showcased the vast number of high-tech and trades-based paths available to students. As many as 45 vendors representing trades from manufacturing, software development and robotics to welding and machining were on hand, with nearly 350 students from throughout Columbia County and beyond attending.
PMG PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO Drake Crosby, a student with Columbia River Youth Corps in St. Helens, uses an augmented reality virtual welding system to simulate creating a real-life metal weld.
Later in the afternoon, the center was open for anyone in the community to visit and explore.
Craig Campbell, OMIC R&D director, said Manufacturing Day is his favorite day of the year. It provides students an eye-opening opportunity to learn about trade-based educational opportunities and to see what high-tech manufacturing jobs are really like, he said.
With so many possible career paths in manufacturing, development, robotics, welding and other fields, the event also helps students discover possibilities. While some students may already know they want to be involved in the trades, for others, Manufacturing Day provides insight into different career paths.
“There is such a demand for young people getting these jobs. When you have a day like today, if they’re familiar with these kinds of jobs, it affirms that for them, and if they’re not, it gives them an opportunity they might not know otherwise,” Campbell said. “It opens their eyes and shows them the breadth of what’s out there.”
Students from throughout Columbia County attended the event, as well as some students from outside the county.
Xavier Jouno and Jasmyne Pense, both with Columbia River Youth Corps in St. Helens, said the event provided them with a unique learning opportunity and exposed them to career fields they didn’t previously know existed.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s good experience for us to come and explore potential careers,” Jouno said.
“It’s an interesting way to find out what’s out there,” Pense added.
Josh Ellis, a student with North Columbia Academy in Rainier, said he enjoyed learning about technical education opportunities like apprenticeship programs, where students work and learn on the job, and other educational options beyond a traditional four-year college program. Ellis said his attendance on Manufacturing Day helped him learn about different fields he could pursue in the future.
Faith Holland and Wyatt Mutt, students from the Tongue Point Job Corps Center in Astoria, said they enjoyed learning about potential careers and the amount of work it takes to create items in high-tech manufacturing.
“A lot of work goes into things I didn’t ever think about,” Mutt said.
“There’s a lot more opportunity than I thought there was, which is cool,” Holland added.
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, both spoke briefly Friday afternoon. Bonamici touched on the importance of students taking the appropriate educational path to align with their goals, which can include apprenticeship programs and other technical education paths.
“Not all students learn the same way and not everyone is on the same path,” Bonamici said.
This year’s event also provided a glimpse into changes at the OMIC R&D facility over the last year. Manufacturing space has been built out and more equipment is on site. While much remains to be done to fully flesh out the program, Johnson is optimistic given OMIC R&D’s current progress.
“An enterprise of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight,” Johnson added.
Johnson reflected briefly on the mission of OMIC R&D and the education and career opportunities the facility will provide for Columbia County residents and young people.
This is the vision coming true,” Johnson said. “We still have a long way to go … but to see these kids here and be excited about jobs in manufacturing is what it’s all about.”
Click on this link for more photos from the event.