The first week of October 2019 marked Greater Lafayette Commerce’s annual Manufacturing Week celebration, which aims to increase awareness of career pathways in manufacturing among K-12 graders. Manufacturing Week was originally inspired by National Manufacturing Day, which is celebrated each year by more than 3,000 businesses and 275,000 students on the first Friday of October. The week long event has quickly grown into one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

Manufacturing Week encompasses a Workshop for K-5 graders, an Expo for 6 - 8 graders, and tours of manufacturing facilities for high schoolers, most of which have traditionally been hosted in Tippecanoe County. However, this year the event was expanded to include an additional workshop in White County. Altogether, the week long event engaged over 3,400 students and educators.

Greater Lafayette Commerce's week is unique from other National Manufacturing Day events in that it brings together local manufacturers, STEM educators and community volunteers to deliver a holistic and career focused educational experience. Students at this year’s Manufacturing Week Expo rotated through four interactive stations focusing on production, design, logistics and support job opportunities in manufacturing. Each station also showcased the latest in manufacturing technology and highlighted its uses by regional manufacturers. For example, at the design station, students drafted their own water bottles using a computer aided design (C.A.D.) software and watched as graduate student volunteers from Purdue University created physical prototypes using a 3-D printer. At the support station, students listened as Cook Biotech explained the process by which a pig intestine can be used as scaffolding to grow new skin cells for burn victims.

The head organizer of Manufacturing Week, Kara Webb, says that an event of this magnitude is made possible by the generosity and engagement of local manufacturers and educators. “The manufacturers in this area want to engage with our students. They understand that these kids are their future employees and, like us at Greater Lafayette Commerce, they want to create a manufacturing ecosystem that prepares them for the types of jobs that will be here 10 years from now.”

MFGWEEK19 was a huge success, and Kara would like to expand the program to serve even more students in the future. “The expo filled up just a few weeks after registration opened. We are seriously considering how we can expand next year. Manufacturing week is an amazing opportunity for students to learn about the manufacturers that support our community. My hope is that someday every teacher that wants to attend the workshop, expo, or tours will have the option.”
If you are an educator or manufacturer that would like to participate in Manufacturing Week in 2020, please email Kara at [email protected]