During the past week and a half, about 200 eighth-grade students from Pella Middle School and Pella Christian Grade School got to see, smell and experience the skills it takes to make windows and doors at Pella Corp., fulfilling the goal of Manufacturing Day; to affect the public’s perception of manufacturing.
“We wanted to bring students on-site to give them a first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in manufacturing,” says Kurtis Webb, production manager at Pella. “By touring the plant, they can feel the energy from our team members and what jobs are like in manufacturing.”
Webb joined fellow team members to coordinate two days where students toured the plant and participated in construction activities to honor Manufacturing Day. This gave Pella team members a chance to share the clean environment and available jobs and skills needed in factories. Throughout the tour, the eighth-grade students learned about various processes, skills, and stations within the more than 1.8 million square foot plant, including:
Its chop saw area, where raw wood is cut to size and operators must make more than 250,000 chopping decisions per day, and the support stackers walk almost 23 marathons a year.
The window assembly line where no two windows are the same that come down the line as it is set up to manage Pella’s made-to-order protocols.
Pella Manufacturing and Engineering Services area that designs, fabricates, installs, and services approximately two-thirds of the equipment in all of the company’s plants.
Along the tour, students followed standard work processes for picking up materials for their construction activity, a soda bottle bird feeder. They even got hands-on when they operated a die-cut machine to punch a hole for their bird feeder.
“We gave the students the opportunity to see the manufacturing process in person and then gave them a project to put their experience in action,” adds Webb. “It’s important to educate students, particularly in this age, on what manufacturing is really about, and to help them understand it as a meaningful, and favorable career.”
This is its first year including students in Manufacturing Day, an annual celebration of manufacturing, but the Pella team hopes to expand the program in the future.
Pella Corp. team members participate in educating students about engineering, manufacturing and more through educational programs like internships, classroom visits and onsite demonstrations across 12 manufacturing locations within the U.S. Plus, Pella hosts a facility at the Iowa State University Research Park as a site for senior design projects, student recruitment, and collaboration between students and Pella employees.