A group of St. Helens High School (SHHS) metal and manufacturing class students likely never thought they would be producing learning videos for other schools, but that is exactly what they have accomplished.
In a year of unprecedented change, Portland Community College (PCC), Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research and Development (OMIC R&D) and the Northwest STEM Hub have remained committed to helping Columbia County high school students explore careers in advanced manufacturing, according to PCC officials.
Unable to host the annual, in-person Manufacturing Day event due to COVID-19, the event planning committee turned to St. Helens High School (SHHS) metals and manufacturing students to help continue the important initiative.
“St. Helens students have played a leadership role in each of the past OMIC Manufacturing Day events, and we were excited to continue the tradition through an alternative virtual format,” SHHS metals and manufacturing teacher Bonnie Adams said.
Utilizing Zoom, the SHHS students conducted taped interviews with tradesmen and women from companies including USiA, Vigor, Cobot Team and Autodesk. The student-led interviews covered topics on what it’s like to work in the trades, the skills and training required and advice on how to prepare for a career in advanced manufacturing.
“The students were able to ask the questions that were on their minds, and our industry partners answered honestly, drawing on their own experience, while providing practical insights on a variety of careers in manufacturing,” Adams said.
The Manufacturing Day Committee produced and distributed nine videos designed to help students learn more about advanced manufacturing. The videos, which were shared with 12 school districts and reached approximately 270 students in Northwest Oregon, featured the student-led industry interviews, an OMIC R&D blueprint tutorial, a virtual tour of the new PCC OMIC Training Center and messages from local elected leaders, including U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and State Sen. Betsy Johnson.
“These are challenging times, and it’s critical we continue to support young people who are interested in manufacturing,” Adams said. “I’m grateful to our industry partners, and I’m incredibly proud of the leadership our students showed to support other young people across the region.”
This year’s Manufacturing Month initiative, like this past summer’s Columbia Works paid internship program, highlighted the importance of PCC’s engagement with the Columbia County community as the college prepares to open its new PCC OMIC training center in Scappoose in 2021, according to a release from PCC.
The center will be focused on cultivating Oregon’s next generation of advanced manufacturing workers and house such programs as machining, industrial fabrication and mechatronics.
Adams said as a career and technical education instructor, her classes are designed to prepare students with the skills and aptitude to work with their hands and for whatever academic or career path they choose.
“That’s why I treat my students like colleagues and we focus not only on technical skills like machining, welding, and blueprint reading, but also on safety, communication, and problem solving,” Adams said in opening remarks of PCC’s regular newsletter.
According to Adams, the SHHS students also learn to use their skills to support the community.
“In fact, my students have built bike racks and benches for local businesses, sculptures for local parks, and even a set of hose-practice boxes for our local fire department,” she said. I’m particularly proud that this year, when confronted with COVID restrictions that prevented an in-person Manufacturing Day event, our students responded by conducting video interviews with local craftspeople that were then shared with 270 students from 12 school districts across the region.”