Businesses, students acknowledge U.S. Manufacturing Day

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published October 14, 2015

WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS — Cousino High School junior Christina Bojovic was one of those kids who always liked to take apart various items and attempt to put them back together.

“I started it with some of my toys at the age of 6 or 7,” she said.

So visiting Rave Computer Oct. 2 on National Manufacturing Day with 20 of her fellow Career Preparation Center students was ideal. The Warren Consolidated Schools students spend part of the day at the CPC building and part of the day at their home school.

On Manufacturing Day, the students were divided up into three groups and spent time in the manufacturing departments, in production development and in the Rave Center for Automated Virtual Environments area.

“I enjoyed it. It was more than I expected,” Bojovic said. “I like hands-on activities.”

Manufacturing Day is a national campaign designed to create more awareness of the importance of the manufacturing industry to the economy. It also highlights the jobs offered in the field.

Rick Darter, president and CEO of Rave Computer, and his staff welcomed the students. Rave Computer is a technology consultant and computer manufacturer that provides Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) and custom-engineered solutions optimized to specific customer requirements. The company manufactures computer hardware primarily for the U.S. defense industry. Rave Computer also provides for commercial clients.

“We integrate new computer technology to meet specific requirements,” Darter said. “Sometimes the requirements are very custom, but we also offer a production line of computers to the commercial industry.”

Darter looked forward to bringing in the students.

“I’m very passionate about STEM and supporting anything related to education,” he said. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Darter is the STEM director for the National Defense Industry Association Michigan Chapter.

CPC student Alec Zytkowski has plans to open his own business with a friend building, repairing and cleaning computers. Visiting Rave Computer gave him an opportunity to see how one company operates.

“It was actually really interesting,” the Warren Mott senior said. “It kind of introduced me to new technology I never knew about.” 

CPC teacher Dennis Klaas hoped the field trip would enlighten the students about the various career opportunities in manufacturing.

“I want them to see there’s more to technology than what they read on the Internet,” Klaas said. “Some kids might change the direction of their education.”

Klaas and Darter hope to continue the new relationship that Rave Computer and CPC have by welcoming students to the business on a regular basis for educational visits.

According to a Macomb County press release, 44 local manufacturers opened their doors to students from 28 Macomb County public high schools for National Manufacturing Day. Students from Lincoln High School, for example, visited Futuramic in Warren.

The county held its first Manufacturing Day in 2013, when Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel held a roundtable discussion with a group of manufacturing executives. What they discovered was that not enough young people were entering the field to replace retiring employees.

From there, Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development staff began working with officials from the Macomb Intermediate School District to develop a plan for students to view the manufacturing industry in person.

A planning committee was formed with representatives from industry, government, K-12 teachers and post-secondary educators. Their efforts resulted in the annual Manufacturing Day.

According to data that Macomb County officials provided, a mechanical engineer with a bachelor’s degree can make $43.54 median hour earnings, commercial and industrial designers with bachelor’s degrees can earn $34.81 per hourly, and a machinist with a high school diploma can earn $22.72 per hour.