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Summit Celebrates Manufacturing Day with Program and Plant Tour

The Northwest Indiana Forum and Center of Workforce Innovations partnered to present the Second Annual Northwest Indiana Manufacturing Summit on Friday, October 7, 2016 at Alcoa Howmet in La Porte, Indiana. With NIPSCO and Enbridge as sponsors, the Manufacturing Day event drew over 75 people, including employers, teachers, students, community leaders, and local elected officials.

The Summit was part of the region’s Manufacturing Week awareness efforts related to the manufacturing industry and its career opportunities. After warm welcomes by hosts, sponsor representatives, and Mayor Blair Milo of La Porte, guests heard an overview of ArcelorMittal’s Steelworker of the Future program, followed by two panel sessions and plant tour.

The workforce panel featured Jon Groth director of the Porter County Career & Technical Education, Audra Peterson, director of La Porte County Career & Technical Center, Boone Grove High School student Bryce Vann, Bradley Atwood-former CTE student and employee at Custom Crimp, and Alexa Rodriguez-former Purdue Calumet engineer student and employee at Alcoa.  The second panel was about automation and robotics and included employers Rudy Labovic with Five Star Engineering, Bill Schott with Urschel Labs, Keith Harpenau with Rockwell Automation.  Focus of the workforce panel was about employer driven demand when it comes to skills needed by manufacturers, how CTE programs are responding, challenges the programs are facing and the need to promote more about manufacturing and the careers. The employer automation and robotics panel focused on long-term benefits of integrating automation versus overall manual production and things to consider when looking into integrating automation.

Local cyber security expert Ron Bush also gave a presentation related to today’s hacking occurrences on both personal and business levels. He stressed the importance of information security audits and how to avoid being a victim of a credit, identity, or corporation information breach situation.

Although information was plentiful at the Summit, the few constants that we hear time and time again at events related to the manufacturing industry are that a skill shortage is upon us and it’s critical to continue reinforcing the message to our schools, parents, and young people that manufacturing is alive and well in Northwest Indiana.  More importantly, there needs to be a clear understanding that many of the employer’s immediate as well as future needs require someone who has a keen sense of, or is interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related training.  And lastly, CTE programs are important to our local workforce and economy.

Alcoa Howmet in La Porte is a leading producer of integral compressor and turbine investment castings for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries.