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High schoolers peek into future on Manufacturing Day

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Shelbyville High School students check out a Smart MFG app on their personal devices that brings a Smart Manufacturing comic book to life during a presentation on Manufacturing Day.
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Students from Triton Central and Southwestern high schools take a tour of Kimura Foundry America during Friday’s Manufacturing Day.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

When Shelby County high school students looked out the bus window on their way to presentations and tours during Friday’s yearly Manufacturing Day, they unknowingly were looking at products created in Shelby County.

Brian Asher, executive director of Shelby County Development Corporation, told a group of Shelbyville High School students during one of the presentations that Shelby County’s manufacturing industry has a hand in the everyday products used.

“Some of the parts we do in Shelby County are all over the world,” he said.

He cited different car parts that are created by several companies such as the glass created by Pilkington North America and the transmission cases made by Ryobi.

The reason why Teslas can reach 60 miles per hour in a matter of seconds is because companies such as Ryobi are using lighter materials, he said.

“They are already seeing the future,” he said. “They already know the future’s coming, so they are already going to the lighter things. The majority of these parts that are made here in SH and SC are already designed for the future.”

Shelby County has 77 manufacturing companies, he said, and nationwide, it is expected that the industry will have 4.6 million jobs needed to be filled. Of that, 2.4 million are not expected to be filled because of the skills gap.

High school students from around the county participated in the annual Manufacturing Day, which featured tours at Freudenberg NOK, Kimura Foundry America Ind., Nippon Steel, Ryobi Die Casting (USA) and Shelby County Co-Op.

At Kimura, a group of students from Triton Central, Morristown and Southwestern learned about the prototyping facility.

Keith Starost, a teacher at Triton Central who teaches Intro to Engineering Design and Physics, was impressed with what he discovered.

“It’s really neat that they use a completely different process than I would have ever thought they would use, prototyping metal by just layers of sand printed,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”

This was Kimura’s first time participating in Manufacturing Day.

Asher said with Kimura’s arrival and its uniqueness, they wanted to include it. He also said organizers try to switch companies because some students attend Manufacturing Day more than once in their time in school.

Starost said he hoped the experience at Kimura broadened his students’ thoughts on what was possible in general, but in Shelby County in particular.

“I think people kind of take for granted they’re in Shelby County and Shelbyville and they might not think these state-of-the-art facilities are here, and that’s usually the takeaway I have from this day every time,” he said. “It’s pretty cool stuff that we have here in the county.”

Krista Wicker, the accounting manager who helped guide the tours along with a couple of casting engineers, said the company was thrilled to be asked to participate this year and that they would do it again in the future.

Kimura is always looking for new ways to innovate, she said, and with many of the engineers hired out of college, likes to have young employees who are on top of new technology.

“I think just showing the technology that’s here in Shelby County and Shelbyville and the factory that’s here and what we’re doing is, it’s a cool opportunity for them to be able to see it,” she said.