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Attracting high school students to a manufacturing career isn't easy. It takes a lot of effort and time for companies to become involved with local high schools and trade/tech schools to promote the benefits of manufacturing as a career.

Clare Goldsberry

November 14, 2014

3 Min Read
Cardinal Manufacturing attracts students to the trades with a celebrity

Attracting high school students to a manufacturing career isn't easy. It takes a lot of effort and time for companies to become involved with local high schools and trade/tech schools to promote the benefits of manufacturing as a career.

However, the trade/tech program - Cardinal Manufacturing - at the Eleva-Strum High School has been quite successful over the past seven years. Students learn CNC machining, welding, and other skills while doing real jobs for local manufacturers to help fund the program. On November 19, Cardinal Manufacturing (www.CardinalManufacturing.org), a trade-technical program at Eleva-Strum High School, will hold an open house from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm, at Cardinal Manufacturing. Featured will be a celebrity appearance by Tom Wopat, singer and actor best known for his role as Luke Duke on the 80s television program "Dukes of Hazard."

Tom Wopat 

Wopat will be Cardinal's special guest from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, and will be on hand for autographs and photo opportunities. Also making an appearance, thanks to Kelly Oium, will Oium's "General Lee" car which will be on display at the open house. At 8:15, Wopat will be giving a concert at the Eleva-Strum auditorium. Tickets are $5 and Wopat is generously donating a significant portion of all proceeds raised that night to Cardinal Manufacturing.

Since 2007, Cardinal Manufacturing has been providing exceptional educational opportunities for students to build professional, problem solving and career skills. The program was also designed as a localized way to address the skills gap in advanced manufacturing and to engage students in meaningful education. "We are exposing students to the potential of manufacturing-related careers, sharpening their technical skills, and instilling the soft skills and professionalism that employers crave," said Craig Cegielski, an instructor for the program.

I've met these students from Cardinal Manufacturing at trade shows, and they are an impressive group of young people. Their interest in manufacturing as a career is exciting to see, and they are knowledgeable and polite. It's obvious that the Eleva-Strum School District's efforts with this program are really paying off. The big payoff however, is for the manufacturing industry in and around Strum, WI, including the moldmaking companies.

Of course, to make the program a real success requires that the students have good machinery on which to learn the trade. The New Machine Challenge is currently underway, and the Nexen Group of Webster, WI, gave Cardinal Manufacturing a challenge during the 2014-15 academic year of raising $37,500 to match a donation they will make toward the purchase of a new CNC machine for Cardinal Manufacturing. The machine will allow Cardinal to take on additional projects adding new and exciting learning opportunities for students. Several thousand dollars toward this match has already been raised since this generous offer was announced in October.

The lack of funds to purchase up-to-date equipment has always been a fly in the ointment for these technical and trade schools in recent years. The technology changes so rapidly that it's tough for businesses to keep up, much less a school where funds are tight. Replacing an older piece of equipment every few years is nearly impossible. While companies often donate older equipment to their local trade schools, learning on outdated machines often doesn't make these young people ready for the real shop-world.

But if you'd like to help out Cardinal Manufacturing in their efforts toward raising $37,500, you can go to their website (www.cardinalmanufacturing.org) and get all the information. 

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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