KINGSFORD– The Upper Peninsula along with the rest of the nation are starting to feel the pains of the labor shortages in skilled trades as baby boomers retire and fewer youth are pursuing vocational work.
Because of that, Bay College has partnered with Heavy Metal Tours and Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs to offer the first-ever manufacturing camp at the Dickinson-Iron intermediate school district.
“Help them understand what’s happening in the industry, in the industry locally,” said Daniel Mitchell, camp instructor/ fabrication welder, BOSS Snowplow. “But mainly what we’re doing is we’re actually going to fabricate a small fire pit. So they’re going to learn GMAW welding, so gas, metal, art, short circuit for a few days. They’re going to learn that process and then they’re going to jump on to the computers.”
It’s a two-week hands-on experience camp for 13-16-year-old students.
“So they’re going to design the parts for the fire pit on there and then they’re going to cut it out on a plasma table, an automated plasma table and then from there, take those parts, construct a fire pit and then weld it together,” said Mitchell.
Students at all different levels of experience are participating in the camp.
“I just thought it would kind of be cool to do something I’ve never done before,” said 13-year-old Paige Briscno. “My family, my dad has done stuff in this area and I thought it would be kind of cool to be able to experience what he does and maybe it could be an option in the future.”
It’s also sparked some interest of women going into the industry.
“It just really shows that women can do what men can do too and welding is just like a great passion of mine and I plan on going into it career-wise,” said 16-year-old Savanna Novara.
During the camp, students will also tour BOSS Snowplow and Systems Control so they can get a bigger picture of what manufacturing really means.