Earlier this month Composite Advantage hosted a group of 45 local high school students as part of national Manufacturing Day.
The one-day event was created in 2012 to put a new face on well—manufacturing. With Baby Boomers retiring, skilled labor has been in short supply prompting companies to turn to automation and robots. Its’ estimated that by 2025 there will be 3.5 million new jobs available in manufacturing. The shortage of qualified workers could reach 2 million.
Fabricators across the country used the special day to open their doors to young people in the hopes of exposing them to potential careers in a wide range of disciplines. In Ohio, manufacturing has remained a major contributor to the state’s economic health since the late 1800s. The third largest state in manufacturing, Ohio produces more than $100 billion in goods. The Buckeye state leads in primary and fabricated metals, machinery, electronic items, transportation equipment, food and beverages, rubber and plastics. Our state also leads in American production of aircraft engines with 16 percent of total U.S. employment based right here. Manufacturing provides more than 700,000 jobs.
Here at Composite Advantage students were interested in the engineering aspect of working with fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites. They were able to examine FRP material firsthand and learn why the material is so beneficial in infrastructure applications.
We used our Lake Tahoe bridge project as an example. Nevada SR 28 [south of Lakeshore Drive, in Incline Village] parallels 11 miles of undeveloped and pristine shoreline on the East side of Lake Tahoe. The nationally designated scenic byway is a two-lane, mountainside road overburdened by more than one million recreationists and 2.6 million-plus vehicles per year. Nearly 2,000 pedestrians and bicyclists share SR 28’s narrow travel lanes and unpaved shoulders. Limited parking and the lack of safe access to sites of interest contribute to roadside safety hazards and erosion which impacts water quality and lake clarity.
The traffic volume for motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles is expected to double in the next 20 years placing further strain on current facilities and the area’s fragile ecosystem. FRP offers a corrosion-resistant, lightweight solution. We’re fabricating 31 panels for a pedestrian bridge that will border SR 28.
Students were able to look at design plans for the project, calculations, shop drawings, work orders and the manufacturing processes we use. They also got to talk to Mark Watts, an engineer we recently hired. He was able to share his experiences from high school to college and finally his first job with us. A number of students participated in the question and answer session. Maybe one of them will end up working here as an engineer or start their own manufacturing company.