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Manufacturing Education Training System Mobile Lab comes to Lawton

LAWTON, Okla._Thursday is National Manufacturing Day and in honor of it, Lawton's Great Plains Technology Center and Cameron University partnered up to bring a mobile teaching lab to the students in our community.

Parked right out front of the Great Plains Technology Center, one-by-one, students of all ages got to experience the machinery used in manufacturing plants and companies every day. They also learned how the math and science they are learning in the classrooms can one day apply to a career in that field.

Our local manufacturers generate about $1.7 billion in sales from the Frederick and Lawton area by selling their products globally. It’s a booming business, however, the problem our local manufacturing companies are running into is that there are just not enough qualified people to fill those positions. Which is why Great Plains Tech Center  is trying to educate our community that those jobs exist.

Bill Cunningham of Great Plains Tech Center says, "This is a deliberate effort to try to get kids to understand that there are cool things happening in the world of manufacturing."

Cunningham says these jobs may not be considered when asked; What do you want to be when you grow up?

Cunningham goes on to say, “We want to raise their awareness, their parents awareness, the awareness of the teachers and counselors that there are really good jobs right here in town."

The solution to that is bring the job to the students.

Cunningham states, “This is a Mobile Training Lab that came down from Pioneer Training Center in Ponca City it travels statewide, and it demonstrates what kind of equipment and machinery is used in manufacturing."

Like mills, lathes and 3D printers that all use computer technology with simple math. For example plotting ‘X’ and ‘Y’ on a graph.

Johnny Thornburgh is the industrial coordinator for Pioneer Technology Center and he demonstrates the ins and the outs of working these machines.

Thornburgh says, “In manufacturing today in the machine shops we have machines like this CNC mill that removes material. You will have a block of material— whether it be aluminum, steel, cast iron— you see all the wasted material that ends up in shavings at the bottom of the machine."

Thornburgh says with the evolving technology wasted material will soon be a thing of the past, "It’s new technology that's coming along is the 3D printer. So when you hear us talk about additive manufacturing, we are talking about a 3D printer where the area is actually starting with a blank slate and we are building up that part. "

Thornburgh demonstrated how once again a computer program similar to clip art could design a graphic.

There are more than 90 manufacturing companies in the 10 counties of Southwest Oklahoma all producing a wide range of products. The average salary in that field is $60,000. The Great Plains Tech Center will host the Manufacturing Education Training System Mobile Lab throughout the week.

If you want to check it out, it will be open to the public on Thursday between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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