Chocolate chip cookies baked in just 45 seconds, robotic welders, laser cutters and other intricate machines and finished products captured the attention of more than 250 Door County high school students and community visitors during the inaugural Manufacturing Days event held October 20 and 21 in the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park. Manufacturing businesses opened their doors for free tours, to provide a 21st century perspective on manufacturing, and showcase career possibilities here in Door County.
Students from Sturgeon Bay, Southern Door, Sevastopol and Gibraltar high schools toured nine businesses October 20: Cadence, Hatco Corporation, Hi-Tec Fabrication, Key Industrial Plastics, N.E.W. Industries, Pro Products, Sunshine House and Sunflower Cottage, Therma-Tron-X, and the event-sponsoring Door County Economic Development Corporation and its business incubator. Seven of those same businesses opened their doors for public tours Saturday, October 21.
Businesses collectively welcomed an estimated 500 visitors, according to Caleb Frostman, executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation.
“This event was a team effort aimed toward a common goal of introducing our students and the general public to an often under-marketed, misunderstood career path,” said Frostman. “Door County manufacturers are working on cutting-edge, exciting projects that impact commerce globally, and we are happy to help tell their stories.”
Students had an interactive experience at Hi-Tec Fabrication, operating some of the machines, including a punch press and a hand sandblaster. They watched a robotic welder zap metal parts together at Therma-Tron-X, and anxiously waited in delight as a company executive baked a sheet of cookies in 45 seconds in an industrial oven designed and fabricated at Hatco Corporation. Each student got a cookie after the demo.
For anyone curious about what goes on inside the big buildings in the Industrial Park, the day is a great opportunity to explore the businesses, ask questions, and potentially find a new job or career path.
“This is a fantastic career-awareness opportunity for area students, and adults. The feedback we received from the schools and participating businesses was extremely positive,” said Frostman. “It was everything we had hoped for, and more for a first-year event. We are planning to host a second Manufacturing Days in Fall 2018.”
The Door County Economic Development Corporation would like to thank the participating businesses, school districts and their students, administrators and educators, members of the Door County Business & Education Partnership committee, NWTC for the use of its ElectroMechanical Mobile Lab, Door County Manufacturers Association, Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center, and NEW Manufacturing Alliance for their support and assistance with this event.