Published Oct. 2013
By Heather Villa, Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Dawn Alford, assistant director for college relations and nuclear technology outreach and retention specialist at Columbia Basin College and GLAM member, and Traci Jao, TRIDEC's project manager and co-organizer of GLAM, watch Delta High School student Riely MacPherson add finishing touches to the boot she created with her team. HEATHER VILLA--Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
The shoe is called Infinity. The sleek new fashion hit will not wear out.
Infinity is a prototype shoe, designed and created by one of the student teams at the fourth annual Girls Learning about Manufacturing, or GLAM, event developed and hosted by the TRIDEC and Columbia Basin College in conjunction with the annual Smartmap manufacturing expo.
On Sept. 24, the hands-on experience at the Bryon Gjerde Center at CBC in Pasco introduced 125 are high school and home-schooled girls to nontraditional career opportunities. More than 40 professional women also participated alongside the students as mentors.
“There’s no greater reward than to see the light bulb come on for a young girl or to see her simply extend outside her comfort zone and consider something new and nontraditional,” said Keeley Gant, CBC’s assistant dean of enrollment management, who co-organized the event with Traci Jao, TRIDEC’s project manager.
The participants were split into 20 teams each of about seven students and two mentors. Many had never met prior to the event.
“I like making friends,” said Rielly MacPherson, a student from Delta High School, when asked what she hoped to get out of the event.
Each team was given an assignment to create a specific type of shoe, such as an earth-friendly shoe, search and rescue snowshoe, or combat boots. And each team was given access to mounds of canvas, faux fur, designer upholstery fabric, vinyl, corkboard, cardboard, thread, glue, and scissors.
But the girls weren’t cut loose with all of the supplies. Plans were made.
The activity helped girls figure out the lifecycle of what’s involved in manufacturing a product.
The students pre-determined the needs, demographics, and materials. A business model outlining the marketing process, research and design, manufacturing and logistics, and distribution, was part the process.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Alison Savage, a manager of supply planning at ConAgra Lamb Weston and GLAM mentor, whose team consisted of students from Hanford, Delta, Richland, Kennewick, Kamiakin high schools and a German exchange student from Germany.
Some of the girls had a knack for coming up with the concept, while others precisely measured out the material and assembled shoes or wrote descriptive marketing copy.
“In any type of business, there are many types of jobs within the business,” said mentor Sandy Brown, a business administrator at SIGN Fracture Care International.
Dawn Alford, CBC’s assistant director for college relations and nuclear technology outreach and retention specialist, said the event allows all to contribute and the students love getting involved.
“They don’t realize they are learning,” she said.
Additionally, each team learned about working under tight deadlines as they worked hard to complete their assignments in two hours.
And for many of the students, who may still be undecided about a career path, it opens new doors, said Renee Thomas, a machine apprentice at Bogert Ventures. It was Thomas’ third year as a GLAM mentor.
“For people who don’t have a plan, it gives them something to look into,” she said.
Ruby Venegas, a Chiawana High School student, said she wants to be an engineer, but hasn’t hasn’t narrowed down what type of engineer she’d like to become, but enjoyed learning about new ideas at the event.
Students benefit when they’re exposed to options.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” said Karen Richardson, career specialist at Hanford High School, who also spent part of her day as a mentor leading a group of girls through a shoe building exercise.
Another mentor Megan Fiess, administrative services manager from AJAC (Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee) and also a member of the Underground Derby League in Olympia, brought her roller-skate to the event. “It took a machinist to build that plate,” she told the girls when she showed them her skate.
Jeremy Bout, the EdgeFactor filmmaker, who produces films highlighting the people behind manufacturing, and only male participant at the event, asked the girls, “Who are the people behind the technology?” He also said, “Most people don’t understand how things are made and why it matters.”
The event provided the young women a broader picture of what manufacturing involves, from conception through distribution, and also an understanding the importance of creating relationships.
Hidy Davis, a student from Hanford High School who wants to become an architect, seemed pretty excited when she said, “I met someone I’d never met before who also attends Hanford.”
In manufacturing a product, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes — and there’s also a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make GLAM a success. Gant and Jao worked hard to develop the successful program and to foster relationships between the industries and educational systems to provide the necessary network to introduce the young women to nontraditional career opportunities.
“The local industry support, the educational partners, and TRIDEC all working together to promote and encourage young women to consider nontraditional career roles, such as manufacturing, is not only indicative of the need for diversity in the manufacturing industry, but the sponsorships and professional mentors for the whole day shows the support from our community to help resolve this gap,” Gant said. “As a woman, I find that incredibly motivating and inspiring.”
The event was sponsored by Cascade Natural Gas, Washington River Protection Solutions, ConAgra, Areva, Sandvik Metals, Richland Rotary, MacKaySposito, Focal Point Marketing and Multimedia, SIGN Fracture Care International, and Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee. Additionally, grant funds from the Carl D. Perkins Act were used to partially fund the event.
All 20 shoes the girls created were displayed at the Smartmap Expo held at the TRAC September 26.
To find out more about GLAM, visit www.smartmapexpo.org/glam.
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