Saniya Beck has no real interest in a job in the manufacturing industry. In fact, Saniya wants to be a veterinarian.
But the 13-year-old eighth-grader from Emerson Middle School in Livonia was with her classmates Friday anyway, taking part in the Manufacturing Day event put on, in part, by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center.
Some 11,000 students around the state took part in the annual event, which gives students a first-hand look at modern manufacturing facilities.
"It's a skill to learn how to build things on your own," said Saniya, whose dad is an electrician. "It's good to have some of these skills. You can get a good job with them."
Occurring on the first Friday in October, organizers say Manufacturing Day is an international celebration designed to show the public modern manufacturing in action and inspire the next generation of skilled workers.
Local students visited facilities all around the county, including places like the MIAT College of Technology in Canton, Globe Tech and E&E Manufacturing in Plymouth and Burke Architectural Milwork, Alpha USA and Linear AMS, all in Livonia (among others).
Lou Young, the co-owner of Linear AMS, said reaching younger students and educating them on the plusses of the manufacturing industry is critical to the industry's continued success.
"It's important to let the younger generation know manufacturing is alive and well and open for business," Young said. "Manufacturing is coming back into Michigan, and there's a huge need. Getting (students) interested at a young age is important. They are our future."
Started in 2012, organizers say Manufacturing Day has seen participation grow dramatically over the years. Michigan leads the nation with more than 270 events scheduled around the state. For the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, it’s an opportunity to join with other organizations and introduce innovative, dynamic manufacturers to school students.
In southeast Michigan, The Center’s involvement includes working with the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and Schoolcraft College to enable 700 students, teachers and chaperones to tour seven manufacturers, and partnering with the Canton Chamber for tours for 300 students in Canton.
"Our mission is based on serving our state’s small and medium-sized manufacturers so they can succeed in an ever-changing business environment,” said Mike Coast, the center’s president. “One of the major challenges facing manufacturing is developing the next generation of skilled trades that will be needed in this increasingly high tech profession.
"Manufacturing Day activities enable us to shine the spotlight on an industry that accounts for the largest sector of the Michigan economy, with 21 percent of the total output in the state and 14 percent of the workforce,” he added.
Contact Brad Kadrich at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bkadrich