As an Engineering and Emerging Technologies (EET) instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus – Northeast (OSTC-NE) since 2000 and someone who has worked and partnered with manufacturing companies throughout my career, I think it would be fair to say I have a pretty good take on the state of manufacturing in Michigan, particularly in Oakland County.
Our teachers, which all come from industry, possess the skills and expertise needed to greatly prepare our students for success in the countless career opportunities that exist in the exciting world of manufacturing.
EET is one of the best clusters a student can pick to enroll in right now. Oakland County is home of Automation Alley, a major technical hub in the state. And because Michigan’s economy centers on manufacturing, there are dozens of career opportunities that exist for those students enrolled in EET for mechatronics, machining or welding. In fact, during the past five years, 28 EET students from OSTC-NE alone have been accepted into the MAT2 program, representing an over $2.1 million investment from the industry in our high school students.
In the EET cluster, students are trained in high-tech engineering technologies including virtual simulation, computerized manufacturing, rapid prototyping and fabrication. EET encompasses a broad range of fields and career paths. For example:
- Mechatronics (the field I teach) can lead a student to becoming a mechatronics technician, industrial technician, industrial electrician, industrial engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, process engineer, bio-medical engineer, robot programmer, PLC programmer or CAD designer.
- Graduates of the machining program can look forward to careers as machinists, CNC machinists, mechanical engineers, process engineers, CNC programmers, tool and die makers or metal model makers.
- Welding propels students into careers such as metallurgical engineer, welding engineer, welding technologist, maintenance welder, tool and die welder, welding equipment repairer, welding technician, laser welding technician, pipe fitter or metal fabricator.
As the name Engineering and Emerging Technologies implies, our students are trained for jobs that are evolving and/or don’t currently exist. These jobs are not the stereotypical factory jobs our grandparents or even parents were a part of. As technology continues to advance, our students will have unlimited opportunities for high-paying careers that allow them to become future leaders — whether it be a supervisor, business owner or CEO.
Our goal as teachers is to provide our students with the skills that will allow them to be successful in their chosen field. Since our state’s economy centers on manufacturing, not having enough skilled workers can be and is posing a major problem. As career and technical teachers, we all hope to be the pipeline that bridges the gap between the classroom and industry. I feel privileged to work side-by-side with some of the best minds in the state.