It was quite the crowd at Lincoln Tech in Mahwah, NJ on October 6th for National Manufacturing Day. Over 250 high school students along with teachers and guidance counselors were visiting from around northern New Jersey and upstate New York. Among the group was International High School Physical Ed teacher Wes Darwish.
A 2006 graduate of the Lincoln Tech campus, this was the first time Wes had been back in the building since he completed his automotive training program. “I felt National Manufacturing Day was an ideal time to introduce my students to what Lincoln Tech has to offer,” explained Wes. “The students I brought today are mostly juniors, and next year as seniors about 70% of them will be going to school for half days. Lincoln Tech’s High School Share Program would be a great way for them to get a head start on technical training.”
National Manufacturing Day – Celebrating the Machines That Drive the Industry, and the People Who Run Them
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Manufacturing was the star of the show on National Manufacturing Day. CNC is a process using high tech CAM software and computer controlled machines to create components from metal, plastic wood or aluminum. These parts are used in almost every industry in America – including auto, aerospace, military, agriculture, aviation and more. Wes and his students were fascinated by the industry-specific equipment and live machining demonstrations in the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC), which is sponsored by the nation’s leading producer of CNC equipment.
Wes made this relatable for his students by explaining that the plyometric boxes they use in gym class were manufactured using CNC technology. What made a bigger impression however, was when the students learned that Lincoln Tech had partnered with NASA to build storage boxes that actually made it to space on the International Space Station. Equally impressive for the parents who attended as chaperones was the fact that the CNC field is projected to add almost 2,500 jobs in the next 7 years across NJ and NY*.
Automotive Training that Turned into Life Lessons
Although the focus of the day was manufacturing, the students did spend some time learning about the other areas of training available at Lincoln Tech Mahwah. As his students were taking pictures in front of the Audi cars, part of Lincoln Tech’s Audi partnership, Wes recalled the impact Lincoln Tech’s automotive training had on his career, and ultimately the way he lived his life.
“For me, it was how I learned, not what I learned, that really resonated,” offered Wes. “My instructors taught me how to challenge myself – to use my mind, and my hands to get the job done right.”
Wes spent years as an Auto Tech after graduation, and still hopes to own his own shop one day. But for now, he has other plans. “I’m a teacher by nature,” Wes explained. “Years in the shop wreaked havoc on my allergies, so I pursued a teaching degree, and that’s how I wound up at International High School. Starting out in one place in life, does not necessarily mean that’s where you’ll finish. Who knows what the future holds?”
One thing we can be certain of – National Manufacturing Day was a great way to spark an interest in an exciting future for a group of high school students!
*Source: careeronestop.org for the years 2014-2014