Oct 19, 2017 | Source: Press & Guide | Author: Mike Larson

Photo caption: Students from Dearborn’s Robichaud High School use virtual reality goggles and software to build cars. Photo courtesy Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications

Robichaud High School students got the chance to tour a Detroit manufacturing facility recently to celebrate Manufacturing Day.

The Dearborn 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.

“I think it’s a tremendous event,” Robichaud science teacher Phil Kubitz said. “It’s a great opportunity to show kids the opportunities that are out there. A lot of our students come from different backgrounds, and they may not be exposed to all the different jobs that are out there. So, it’s nice to get them to a place like this, where they can ask questions and see how engineers do their jobs and see how many opportunities in STEM there are.”

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. Debbie 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.

According to the students, the experience was eye opening.

“It’s really cool to get to see the engineers in action,” said Unique McClain, a freshman at Robichaud. “When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be really interesting, and it was. I’ve always wanted to be an engineer, so it’s nice to see everything. I guess it makes me realize I have a lot of choices. There are so many different kinds of engineers.”

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.

Read more about the ribbon cutting here.