Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015
Careers with a Future
As they browse the display tables at Greer High School, students are finding out what kinds of careers they could have in Advanced Manufacturing. They watch as a drone zooms overhead, flown by an instructor at Bonds Career Center. They observe an automated machine that sorts plastic washers into bins based on size. Companies like 3M, Sew Eurodrive, GE Turbines, and Greenville Tech are there for the Advanced Manufacturing Career Expo to share information about high-tech, high-paying careers.
Rick Schwartz, who teaches Advanced Manufacturing at Greer High, said his courses for ninth and tenth graders are educating them about what is available at Bonds Career Center. “They’ll take a technology course in freshman year where they make bridges and build rockets,” he said. “The second course is Introduction to Manufacturing, which includes field trips and hands-on experiences using machines similar to those they will use at Bonds and in the manufacturing world.”
By their junior year, students are ready for career center programs that use highly technical machines and equipment such as a 3D printer, CNC mill, robotics arm, and an automation trainer.
Jessica Lilyea, a junior in the Machine Tool program at Bonds, said her father helped her become a hands-on person who likes to make things. “In middle school I took Gateway to Technology classes that introduced me to what I’ve been able to study here. I took both of Mr. Schwartz’s courses last year and I loved it. I would recommend this program to anyone because it is so much fun and you can do so many different things with it,” she said.
Bonds Career Center received a modular production system (MPS) station this year. “It’s an entire manufacturing facility from start to finish. They bring in the raw material on one end, then the MPS makes the product and puts the product together on the other end,” said Mark Spencer, who teaches Mechatronics. “Our students are getting training on the same equipment they’ll use in a Mechatronics program at college. With a two-year degree, these graduates will start out making $26 per hour. That’s about $60,000 a year.”
Greer High Principal Marion Waters said his school is making a commitment to students to introduce them to the world of advanced manufacturing. “The businesses that have located along the I-85 corridor offer jobs with an excellent career field, high pay, and opportunities for advancement. Manufacturing jobs are really going to increase in intensity in the next 10 to 15 years, and we want to have our students prepared and ready for that.”
Every middle and high school student has an Individualized Graduation Plan which allows them to map out a course of study based on their interests. Of about 36,000 students, less than 400 have stated that are interested in going into the field of manufacturing.