Students visit Cooper Tire, learn about manufacturing
Eighth-graders from Texas Middle School witnessed a range of occupational possibilities Thursday at the Arkansas-side convention center in a show put on by Cooper Tire.
This is the third year that Cooper Tire has hosted the National Association of Manufacturers and Manufacturing Institute's “Dream It, Do It” program that shows young students employment possibilities they may not have considered as they approach the end of their primary school career.
“College is not for everyone,” said Scott Cole. “Some youngsters need a different path.”
The traditional post-high school route involves college and sometimes graduate school. But over the decades, as more students have taken that course, manufacturing and industry have found it harder and harder to fill out their labor forces. Some have had the perception that America no longer makes or builds anything, but that is not true.
“Parents did much of the steering away from labor in years past, as the perception of industry jobs was dark and dreary. Sure, there are those jobs, but today, it is so much more,” Cole said.
Today's manufacturing involves many more techniques and approaches, in addition to the heavy lifting and machinery work most imagine of industrial labor. Robots are now involved. Programmers give instructions to various automated systems that expedite the manufacturing process. Then there all the jobs that support the factory and its various departments.
Cole says today's students, in many ways, have an easier time adapting to the current manufactur-
“They've grown up with computers in a way that previous generations did not. Using and communicating with computers is just something they are used to. This gives them an edge in learning how to operate automated systems in many of our pieces of equipment,” he said.
Aislyn Echols, 13, was surprised how involved the processes are in just creating a tire.
“I came expecting to learn the steps on how to make tires, but the number of layers in a tire surprised me,” she said.
Sseeing all the jobs involved in running a place like Cooper has opened her eyes to employment ideas she has not considered.
“I see the possibilities,” she said.
Caleb Horne, 13, also felt he had been awakened to possible careers in this field.
“I like the process of building, the mechanics involved. I might like doing something like this for a living.”
Cole said that there's always a small set of students out of each of these groups that seems inspired, like a light going on. And that is what it is all about, opening them up to possibilities they may not have known about or thought of.
“Besides teaching them about technological and industrial employment possibilities, we want to emphasize that in this world, their decisions will determine their direction. Who they hang out with, the decisions they make, the habits they pick up, all this will add up to their future,” he said.
Parents are also appreciative of the work Cooper Tire does in introducing students to this world.
“We've gotten thank- you letters from parents, telling us about the impact we've had on their kids,” said Cole.
Evan Fitte, left, and Daniel Bryan, engineers with Cooper Tire, operate a robot arm, one of the displays at “Dream It, Do It,” an orientation for eighth-graders from Texas Middle School to let them know about the possibilities of careers in industry.