Platt expo focuses on manufacturing: Is it a rebirth or an identity crisis

While manufacturing is experiencing what many economists describe as a renaissance, it also is in the midst of what some in the industry call an identity crisis.

Organizers of a career expo in Milford this week hope to change that by showing a new generation of workers what manufacturing is — and isn't.

Manufacture Your Future will be presented Platt Technical High School from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. April 5. Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the Connecticut Community Colleges' College of Technology's Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence, explained the rationale behind the event.

"Students thinking about potential careers, along with adults who influence their decisions — parents, teachers, and school counselors — often have an outdated view of manufacturing," she said. "They picture a dirty, noisy factory floor with low-skill production-line jobs.

“In fact, today's environment is made up of incredibly sophisticated technologies developed, programmed, and operated by highly trained employees."

Wosczyna-Birch said Connecticut manufacturers are innovating and competing on a global scale, and they need a talented, capable workforce to ensure their continued success.

“This expo helps young people see the possibilities in manufacturing,” she said.

Coordinated by CBIA's Education Foundation, Manufacture Your Future will bring together 25 leading Connecticut manufacturers and 300 students from 12 area high schools for a half-day of exhibits, career and education workshops, and networking.

Participating manufacturers include Sikorsky Aircraft, RC Bigelow Tea, Producto Moore Tool Company, Schick Inc., The Lee Company, Ultra Electronics, and Unilever.

Throughout the morning, students will see the manufacturing process in action, watching products being made in Platt Tech's high-end manufacturing center. They will also hear about Housatonic Community College's new advanced manufacturing program in Bridgeport.