Oct. 20, 2017 | Source: The News-Herald | Author: Mike Larson

High school students from Melvindale and River Rouge got the chance to tour a Detroit manufacturing facility recently to celebrate Manufacturing Day.

The students convened at LIFT/IACMI Lightweighting Facility on Detroit’s west side to participate in science, technology, engineering and math events.

In addition to touring the facility, the students got to use virtual reality technology, build a hovercraft out of CDs and talk to working engineers.

The event, which also was a ribbon-cutting for the facility, hosted more than 160 students, as well as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Sen. Stabenow, among others.

For the students, the day started with a tour, where they got to see, up-close, the way the LIFT/IACMI engineers work with auto manufacturers to make vehicles lighter.

“Seeing the way the different parts are made is pretty interesting,” said Tamia Coleman, a River Rouge High School senior. “It’s something that you know happens, but you don’t really appreciate until you see it.”

Coleman said she has aspirations of becoming a pediatrician, but that after seeing some of the opportunities available to her in the STEM field, she might change her mind.

“I guess I just didn’t realize all the different things you can do with STEM,” Coleman said. “I guess it gives me a lot to think about.”

When it comes to finding jobs in the STEM field, at least one professional believes getting young people involved is essential.

“Jobs in engineering and tech-based manufacturing are not going anywhere,” said Chris Houseman, a project engineer at the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute. “This is the way the world is now. We’re going to see a lot of jobs be eliminated by automation, but we’re going to see a lot of them created in this field.

“And the sooner we can get kids involved, the better. That’s why events like this are so great. It gives kids a chance to be immersed in the tech and manufacturing environment for a while. It gives them the chance to see what’s available to them. Getting young people involved in STEM careers in a win for everyone.”

After the tour, the students worked with professional engineers as well as college volunteers. They donned special goggles and learned how to build a car in virtual reality.

“It was really cool,” said Carlie Bryant, a Melvindale High School freshman. “It really gives you insight into the engineering field. You get to pick different materials and see how they work. It was just really interesting.”

Bryant’s classmate, sophomore Erik Cortez, said he also enjoyed the event.

“It’s really nice, to be honest,” he said. “I was just hoping to see some of the processes, but being able to see everything has been extremely cool. It has really been a great day.”

Read more about the ribbon cutting here.