Students see 'nuts and bolts' of modern manufacturing
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It wasn’t a typical Friday for some 600 middle school students from Livonia Public Schools and surrounding districts.

Instead of learning in classrooms, students had the opportunity to tour local facilities as part of the national Manufacturing Day. For the fourth year, Livonia Public Schools middle school students were invited to take an up-close look at how things are made.

Students who are enrolled in robotics, drafting, engineering and industrial tech courses at Emerson, Frost and Holmes middle schools were invited to hop onto buses and visit manufacturing plants in and around Livonia.

Educational tours were offered at Valassis, Linear AMS, Schoolcraft College Applied Sciences, Burke Architectural Millwork, Alpha USA, CW Bearing, McLaren Engineering and Roush Performance.

Each year, the program, which is presented by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, has grown. This year, LPS students were joined by students from Clarenceville, Wayne-Westland and Garden City school districts.

Dan West, president and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, said there is a steady push in the area to expose students to careers in manufacturing.

“There is a great demand for skilled and technical talent for manufacturing companies in Livonia and around metro Detroit,” said West. “This is an important introduction to today’s industry for students.”

At Livonia parts supplier Alpha USA, President and COO Chuck Dardas welcomed the students and talked about the manufacturing facility of today.

“You can see the type of environment we’re in, and how clean it is. That’s very important here at Alpha, that we have a nice, clean facility. So, this is what modern-day manufacturing looks like,” said Dardas. “All of these machines are run by computers and they’re all connected into a system where we check our manufacturing output, every day …so, this is a very modern facility.”

Emerson Middle School student Vincent Garant said he is interested in manufacturing and engineering. He took notes throughout the day and paid close attention.

“I learned how much you can make and how old you have to be,” he said. “This shows me all of the different parts and stuff, like the big cranes, and I just think it’s really cool.”

West said local participation in Manufacturing Day is important because there is a shortage in the skilled trade workforce, a shortage that is expected to reach into the millions within the next few years.
Manufacturing Day
Group pic at Alpha USA with Frost Middle School students. 
Manufacturing Day
Chuck Dardas, president and COO of Alpha USA.
Manufacturing Day
Frost students learn about various equipment from Alpha USA staff.
Manufacturing Day
Emerson Middle School students at Linear AMS.
Manufacturing Day
Holmes Middle School students check out a Mustang at Roush Performance.
Manufacturing Day
Holmes students toured the Roush Performance facility on Manufacturing Day.
Manufacturing Day
Shiny Mustangs were a common sight at Roush Performance. 
Manufacturing Day
Group shot of Holmes students at Roush Performance. 
Manufacturing Day
Vincent Garat took notes throughout the tours. 
Manufacturing Day
Schoolcraft's Applied Sciences program was a stop on the Manufacturing Day tour.
Manufacturing Day
Livonia City Councilwoman Kathleen McIntyre stopped by Alpha USA on Manufacturing Day. From left, McIntyre, Emerson Middle School Principal Ann Owen, Alpha USA President/COO Chuck Dardas and LPS Director of Secondary Programs Dan Willenborg.