It was the 14th stop of the Creators Wanted Tour, but the level of enthusiasm among attendees made it seem like the first.
What happened: This week’s visit of the award-winning mobile immersive experience—an initiative of the NAM and its 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, the Manufacturing Institute—to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area was an unequivocal hit.
- Hosted by Dow with the participation of Union Pacific, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, FactoryFix, River Parishes Community College and BASF, the event drew more than 500 students to the college’s Westside Campus in Plaquemine, Louisiana. Students came from the college as well as area middle and high schools.
- The digital campaign signed up more than 26,000 new students and career mentors in Louisiana to learn more about modern manufacturing. In addition, Dow (a third-time Creators Wanted host) and Union Pacific had team members on-site to answer students’ questions about their careers.
High tech: Dow displayed drones and robots—including one named Spot—to give students a peek at some of the cutting-edge technologies they might expect to work with in manufacturing. Meanwhile, Union Pacific offered 3D virtual tours of company operations.
Manufacturing is everywhere: River Parishes Community College Chancellor Quintin D. Taylor, who gave opening remarks at the kickoff event, emphasized the extent to which manufacturing touches everyone each day—and how fulfilling a career in it can be.
- “Even the toothpaste we all used this morning was made in a facility that does manufacturing,” Taylor said. “Should a time come in your life where you decide to have a family, you have to be gainfully employed to take care of your family. Manufacturing is just one of many careers, quite frankly, that can help you do that.”
“Be somebody big”: Union Pacific Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales Kenny Rocker seconded that sentiment.
- “Who wants to make the world better and make a lot of money doing it?” Rocker asked the audience to a show of numerous hands. With a manufacturing career, “you can be the GOAT in your family,” he continued, referring to the acronym meaning “Greatest of All Time.” “You can be somebody big in your family.”
- Stay tuned: Union Pacific will host a Creators Wanted stop in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area in the fall.
Creators required: There’s an acute need for more workers in manufacturing, MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee said, and there’s something in it for everyone.
- “I can promise you if you are interested in designing, building, solving, creating things, fixing things with your hands, just figuring stuff out, there is a home for you in manufacturing,” she said.
- Lee cited research by the MI and Deloitte that found if current trends continue, manufacturers will need to fill some 4 million jobs by the end of this decade.
Autograph-worthy: Attendees were so inspired by the kickoff-event remarks of Dow Chairman and CEO (and NAM Board Chair) Jim Fitterling—who spoke about students’ opportunities to do something historic in their careers—that several requested his autograph.
- “The world’s going through one of the biggest changes since we industrialized the United States,” said Fitterling, who along with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wrote an op-ed about the tour that appeared in the Louisiana Policy Review this week.
- “We’re about to go through another … massive change because we’re going to reindustrialize this country. And that means you are going to get to work on some of the biggest projects that we have ever seen in the world.”
- Fitterling, who personally took students through the Creators Wanted immersive experience before his talk, emphasized, “We’re here to see you. We’re interested in you. We want you to have a great future, and we want you to have … opportunities.”
“I’m still having fun”: Panel discussions featured leaders and team members from Dow as well as Turner Industries, giving students a more in-depth perspective about modern manufacturing careers.
- During an on-stage discussion with Fitterling, Dow Senior Lead Site Manufacturing Director Crystal King told the audience how she came to choose engineering: her mother chose it for her.
- “When I was in 10th grade, my mom asked me what did I want to do,” King said. She had said she wanted to go into education because her mother was a teacher. Then her mother “explained that when she went to college, there were only two things that, as an African-American female, she could be. One was a teacher, and one was a nurse. And I needed to do something other than either one of the two of them.”
- Despite thinking she “would hate” being an engineer, King loved it—and she still loves it. “This is the best job in the world,” she told the audience. “I tease Jim [Fitterling]—I say, ‘When I stop having fun, I’m going home.’ I’m still having fun.”
The reception: In addition to a student who was “left … speechless” by the week’s events and another who called Creators Wanted “the best thing I ever did,” the tour stop had social media abuzz with praise for the initiative:
- “Thank you to #CreatorsWanted for hosting our students over the past two days,” tweeted White Castle High School. “The students had a great time learning and building excitement about modern manufacturing careers.”
- “Our Juniors and Seniors are having a fantastic time at #creatorswanted today!” tweeted Plaquemine High School. “They’re expanding their knowledge of the manufacturing industry and workforce, while also getting a chance to tour RPCC. A big thank you to #Creatorswanted, Dow and RPCC for this opportunity!”
Coming up: Creators Wanted will travel to Marysville and Columbus, Ohio, next week for stops at the Honda Heritage Center and the COSI Science Festival, sponsored by Honda. Later in May, the tour goes to the Indy 500 in Indianapolis.