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St. Charles students get a taste of manufacturing world

Visit manufacturing plants as part of Manufacturing Day

ST. CHARLES – Over the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled and 2.4 million jobs may be left open because of a lack of trained workers, according to The Manufacturing Institute.

St. Charles North High School junior Jason Krueger wasn't aware of the types of manufacturing jobs that are available until he and his fellow classmates, as well as students from St. Charles East, on Oct. 4 visited different manufacturing plants in St. Charles.

Tiger Drylac, which manufactures powder coating, was among the plants visited. The plant tours were coordinated by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce as part of Manufacturing Day, which was Oct. 4.

"With manufacturing, there's obviously a lot more jobs than I was thinking of," Krueger said. "I just thought they would be factories and they would just have workers building things. But we came to this place and I saw a lot of people in all different kinds of jobs. There's also sales and receptionists and everything like that."

The visit gave fellow St. Charles North junior Joe Chapman the chance to see what can be done with coding. Chapman has been learning about coding in his technology class.

"It shows that a lot can be done with coding, like in terms of automation," Chapman said.

In 1968, Tiger was one of the first companies to enter the previously unknown field of powder coating technology.

"The powder paint is something that does not require any liquid," Tiger Drylac general manager Amir Haider told the students. "It's all dry. It's all solid. So that was a new, exciting technology for them."

Powder coating is used on a number of items, including cell phones.

"It's all around you," Haider said.

The company currently has eight production facilities worldwide and three research and development centers, including one in St. Charles. The company also produces resins.

St. Charles North technology education teacher Marsha Brown was happy her students had the opportunity to visit the manufacturing plants. Her students are in a Project Lead The Way computer integrated manufacturing class.

"They do some coding and they do some automation," Brown said. "Their final exam is actually building a manufacturing system. So they really have to understand what we saw today. So it was a big day for them and we will take everything we saw and talk about it in the classroom."

She also noted there is a shortage of people working in the manufacturing field.

"College is important, but there are other options," Brown said.

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