ATCC students attend manufacturing day


Arkansas Tech University-Ozark campus recently organized a Manufacturing Day event to coincide with National Manufacturing Day, which is held annually in October. Arkansas was home to twenty Manufacturing Day events across the state. The event allows manufacturers to open their doors, show off career opportunities, and highlight the skill needs of its future workforce.  It is a chance for these industries to connect with students, educational providers, and the community to discuss everything from the impact of manufacturing in the region, perceptions of manufacturing, and the need for highly trained, technical skills.

The event was held on October 18th, and ATU-Ozark partnered with Rockline Industries and Bridgestone Americas Tube Business, both in Russellville, along with the Russellville Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Valley Alliance for Economic Development, and the ATU Russellville campus to make the event a success. Almost 40 students from the Automation Technology program of the Arkansas Tech Career Center in Russellville and its ATCC satellite in Paris took part in the day.

The students started out at Rockline Industries where they heard from General Manager Mark Clarke on the company’s products, impact, and production processes. Students toured the facility and were able to see an advanced manufacturing environment with robotics, programmable logic controllers, along with the highly skilled workforce that make their machines run efficiently. Each job and its duties were listed along with the educational requirements, and students were able to hear from various employees about the importance of everything from safety to quality. “It was exciting to see the level of interest that the ATCC students had in learning about manufacturing at Rockline Industries.   The more opportunities that we can provide as a manufacturing community to expose students to careers in manufacturing – the brighter the outlook will be for businesses in the River Valley to continue to be competitive manufacturing products for global markets,” said Clarke.

Rockline then gathered all of its employees along with the students for a lunch where they heard from local leaders on the importance of manufacturing to the economy. Paul Harvel, President and CEO of the Russellville Chamber and Arkansas Valley Alliance along with Randy Horton, Mayor of Russellville, spoke to the students about their support of manufacturing as a strong regional impact, and the importance of getting young people interested in these jobs.

Students then spent the afternoon at Bridgestone Americas Tube Business, where they heard from General Manager Scott Gateley and Engineering Manager Rick Smith. Students were able to see a detailed viewing of how Bridgestone make its tubes from raw material to finished product. They also learned how Bridgestone has been able to succeed in an environment where overseas competition has grown tremendously in the manufacturing of their product. Bridgestone has been a staple in the Russellville economy for over 50 years and knows the value of having access to a skilled workforce

Justin Smith, Chief Business and Community Outreach Officer for ATU-Ozark who organized the day, said of the event “We are very glad to see manufacturers like Rockline and Bridgestone open their doors to these students and show us what opportunities exist behind their walls. Companies like these are drivers of the local economy and their willingness to share their skill needs can only help us as an education provider to better service them with students and training.

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