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“Return to Work” Program Promotes Manufacturing Career Awareness

Published July 30, 2007


In spring 2007, college and high school teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators were invited to participate in another MEC program offering called Return-to-Work (RTW).  The RTW program is a partnership with host Nebraska manufacturers to allow educators the chance to spend one to three days working in a facility.  The educators are able to learn the about the manufacturing organization, particularly in the area of industrial maintenance and Mechatronics.


Fifty-seven educators applied to participate in the RTW program.  Eighteen manufacturers offered to host the educators at their facilities.  They included BD Medical, BD Pharmaceutical, ADM, Behlen Mfg, and Vishay Dale in Columbus, Cargill Meat Solutions in Schuyler, Airlite Plastics and Tri-V Tool & Manufacturing in Omaha, Goodyear in Norfolk, Lincoln Machine and Kawasaki in Lincoln, Parker Hannifin in McCook, Baldwin Filters in Gothenburg, BD Diagnostic in Broken Bow, MetalQuest Unlimited in Hebron, Eilers Machine & Welding in Lexington, and Chief Industries and Eaton Corporation in Kearney.  By the end of June, 26 educators had participated in RTW visits.


The written responses from those who completed their RTW experience were overwhelmingly positive and informative as shown in the following educators’ comments:

Although people are involved in all areas, a surprising percentage of the work is done with robotics.  The level of mechanized processes is very impressive.  (English teacher with Cargill)


What was particularly impressive was the huge amount of problem-solving that takes place, and the teamwork and communication skills that are needed to successfully resolve problems...  (Industrial Tech teacher with Vishay Dale)


…The need for workers to have good math skills.  (Guidance Counselor with BD Medical)


…Too often kids, and parents, think that they have to get a 4 year college degree, but in reality there are some excellent employment opportunities for kids willing to just get some specialized training in various technical fields, training that is available at a fraction of the cost of a four year degree.  (Superintendent with MetalQuest)


There is also a gap between parents’ perception of what is essential to their children’s success in the workplace and what they perceive as ‘success’ in education.  (Guidance Counselor with Goodyear)


I tried to apply it [observing an automated process line] to what I learned last summer in Columbus (in an MEC workshop).  I was surprised to see such a direct correlation to what we did last summer.  (Industrial Tech teacher with BD Diagnostic)


I will have my students do a couple of different things in the classroom to enhance their learning.  (Science teacher with Tri-V)


The experience was awesome...  (Industrial Tech Department Chair with Kawasaki)

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