GOSHEN — Local eighth-graders are getting a peek at what manufacturing looks like in Elkhart County this week and a glimpse of what future careers could await them.
Nearly 3,000 Elkhart County students are visiting manufacturers across the county as part of Manufacturing Day. The Horizon Education Alliance partnered with 77 manufacturers throughout the county to make this week possible.
Manufacturing Day is a nationwide celebration meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. The event started on Monday and will continue through Oct. 10.
A small group of Goshen Middle School eighth-graders got a tour of Lippert Components Plant 228 on Goshen’s south side late Wednesday morning.
Students were able to see how the company produces and designs the windows of a recreational vehicle. Lippert Components is a leading supplier of premium, quality windows for the residential housing, RV, bus, equestrian trailer, specialty vehicle and heavy truck industries.
The day is intended to get Elkhart County students to start thinking about pursuing a career in the manufacturing sector, said Toby Crowley, general manager of Lippert Plant 228, who helped lead the tour.
Crowley said not all students are college-bound after high school, and Manufacturing Day is valuable in showing them that career options are available after they graduate.
“It seems in this day in age everyone is so adamant about kids having to go to college, otherwise they’ll never have a successful career, and we don’t believe that to be true whatsoever,” he said. “We believe that young adults who want to work hard and are passionate about winning and have a positive attitude can have a successful career in manufacturing without having to go to college.”
Crowley said there is a need for trained manufacturing workers in Elkhart County and showing kids they have other options after high school is important.
“I imagine as eighth-graders, many of the students aren’t sure what they want to do after they graduate high school,” he said. “It’s important that they know what’s out there and we’d love for some of these students to come work for Lippert Components after they graduate.”
Kylie Eaton, an eighth-grader at GMS, said she’s interested in getting into the manufacturing field at some point and appreciated how the tour gave her some early exposure.
“I like building things and with this tour we got to do more hands-on things that we don’t do at school,” she said.
Though Jaime Cruz, also an eighth-grader, doesn’t believe he’ll pursue a career in manufacturing, he said he thought Wednesday’s tour was educational.
“I enjoyed learning a bit about how to manufacture the windows of RVs,” he said.