Belmont High School students examine information about Milpower Source during a tour as part of Manufacturing Week. (Courtesy photo)
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — October was Manufacturing Month in New Hampshire, when factories opened their doors to students from area high schools in order to showcase some of the innovative things being produced in the state.
At Milpower Source, a group of 15 students from Belmont High School toured the facility at the end of the month, learning about how the company operates, what jobs it offers, and how it supports the United States military.
Students spent an hour at the company, touring the facility, participating in a hands-on demonstration, and speaking with employees to find out what it is like to work in that field.
In addition to raising awareness of the diversity of jobs available in manufacturing, the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership established Manufacturing Week as a way to show that the factory floors are no longer the dirty, dangerous places they used to be. With high technology and environmental awareness, the jobs have evolved into safe, clean places to work.
With support from the Division of Resources and Economic Development, the Business and Industry Association, the New Hampshire High Tech Council, the Community College System of New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Department of Education, dozens of manufacturers participated in this year’s Manufacturing Month, which brought thousands of students through their facilities.
"I never knew there was a company near my school that made things for the U.S. Army that ultimately keeps us safe,” one Belmont student commented during the Milpower Source tour.
Human Resources Director Holly Lewis said, “We were thrilled to provide a tour and a hands-on demonstration designed to show the students what a career in high-tech manufacturing could look like.”
High schools and colleges are beginning to take another look at manufacturing, after years of focusing on culinary and automobile repair skills. Those are important, but many companies operating in the state are lamenting the lack of training in electrical and computer science that is important to today’s manufacturing processes. The lack of skilled labor is among the top issues raised by New Hampshire companies.
Originally a week long, Manufacturing Week has expanded to an entire month, as a lead-in to the Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit. The month-long event is intended to open up a new supply of talent as companies look to build their future skilled workforce.
Community colleges held open houses in conjunction with the factory tours in order to showcase their advanced manufacturing programs, facilities, and machines. Potential students learned about the educational options in advanced manufacturing that they can use to build a career locally without leaving New Hampshire.
Belmont High School students gather in the conference room during a tour of Milpower Source during Manufacturing Week. (Courtesy photo)