The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how a nimble and innovative manufacturing sector can address some of humanity’s most pressing and emergent needs — from the production of masks and face shields to the biomanufacturing of therapeutics.
Beginning on Monday, November 2, high school students from across the region will have an opportunity to explore some of the wide-ranging potentials of manufacturing during the 9th Annual National Manufacturing Day celebration at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Due to the current pandemic, students will be transported to the Rensselaer campus and local manufacturing facilities through virtual field trips during a week-long event that ends with a virtual panel discussion on Friday, November 6.
“Each year we look forward to welcoming students to Rensselaer’s beautiful campus and the state-of-the-art facilities, and sharing with them our passion and expertise in advanced manufacturing,” said Shekhar Garde, the dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “This year is especially important because the global pandemic has underscored the importance of applying science and engineering to everything we do, including manufacturing solutions from PPE to therapeutics and vaccines.”
During one of the virtual tours, students and educators will have an opportunity to see the Manufacturing Innovation Learning Lab (MILL) at Rensselaer, where staff have been manufacturing critical face shields for the protection of frontline health care workers.
“The pandemic has caused us to rethink the way we use and share our resources,” said Sam Chiappone, who is leading the face shield manufacturing effort at Rensselaer as the director of the MILL. “This is a great example of how resilient and flexible manufacturing can respond to immediate needs and contribute to the common good.”
Participants will also have the chance to virtually visit Simmons Machine Tool, Ross Valve, Ross Precision Machining, or Industrial Tool & Die, where they will get an up-close look at various manufacturing machines and processes, and learn how these local companies have adapted to meet the needs of modern manufacturing. Students and educators will be provided with questions to reflect upon during each of the two tours.
Questions that students come up with throughout the virtual experiences can be shared on Friday, November 6 at 9 or 10:30 a.m. during two live virtual panel discussions with Rensselaer undergraduate and graduate engineering students, and representatives from the local manufacturing companies participants virtually toured. Reporters are also invited to virtually attend either panel discussion.
“While the pandemic poses many challenges, this virtual National Manufacturing Day event allows us to offer this educational opportunity to an unlimited number of students without geographical constraints,” said Elizabeth Herkenham, the education outreach director for the School of Engineering at Rensselaer.
The Rensselaer National Manufacturing Day celebration is being presented by the MILL, the Rensselaer School of Engineering Educational Outreach Department, and Multimedia Services at Rensselaer.
Educators who would like to register for their class to participate can do so before Wednesday, November 4 by contacting the School of Engineering Outreach Department at firstname.lastname@example.org .