It is no secret that in the United States today companies are having problems filling well paid positions on their manufacturing floor. There are countless articles outlining the skilled labor gap and how the future of trades is ominous due to the lack of young adults entering the market. Don’t worry, this is not one of those articles. Instead, we want to focus on what we’re doing as a custom cable manufacturing company to try and inspire our youth to consider a career in manufacturing. Northwire has continued to host our annual Bring Your Child to Work Day for employee’s sons and daughters aged 8-18.
Bring Your Daughter to Work day actually started in 1992 and was originally designed to address self-esteem issues and had more emphasis on introducing girls to the workforce. The program expanded in 2003 to include boys as well and is now referred to as ‘Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’. The nationally recognized day is typically held during the school year on the fourth Thursday in April and children tend to shadow their parent at work for the day. In an effort to encourage more children to join in on the fun, engage in some fun STEM inspired learning activities, as well as learn about all of the different departments that make up a company, Northwire likes to host a special day in the summer with a full agenda!
The Bring Your Child to Work Day event started with the most important factor to any successful day… breakfast! The kids were treated to an array of granola bars, yogurt, fruit, and juice to prepare them for an action filled day which started with a quick overview of Northwire. Led by Senior Marketing Specialist, Bridget Locke, the kids learned of Northwire’s beginnings, the custom cable and wire industry including what it takes to make a cable as a foreshadow to the production tour later on, and some examples of where our custom cable and wire is used in the real world. This was followed by introductions from each participant who then explained what they believed their parent’s job entails at NWI. The answers varied from “checks wires”, “helps people”, and the audience favorite “I don’t know”. This led us into team building exercises captained by our beloved intern and former camp counselor Noah Schminski. As a result of the activities which included classics such as ‘Me and Some of My Friends’, ‘Chicken Cowboy Conquer’, and ‘Bear Salmon Mosquito’ which helped form instant relationships that are sure to last beyond the short day
Once the Future Cable Builders of America regained their energy after a quick snack, they were subjected to a tour of our manufacturing floor with Production Manager Kevin Rector, where they could see first-hand how customized cable and wire is made as well as some of their parents on the job! The production tour included visits to all the different phases that go into custom cable manufacturing including inner conductor extrusion, through cabling and braiding, jacketing, retractile, and assemblies.
Next, the kids visited with each office department such as Human Resources, Accounting/Finance, Customer Care, Outside Sales, Cable Design, Research and Development, Purchasing, Scheduling, and IT. At each stop, a representative from the department spoke about what they do on a day to day basis and how their department supports the company in their overall objective. They also answered any and all questions from the kids (no matter how silly). The tour ended with a quick stop in the Quality lab where the kids were informed about the various quality assurance steps Northwire performs to ensure that customers will be satisfied with their product. Participants were able to test their skills and perform their own tests including flex testing, color matching, and the classic attention to detail game “spot the difference”.
Following the Quality lab hands on activities the kids were treated to a wire related science experiment by our very own Materials Engineer Mohamud Ahmed! The kids were able to learn about the basics of a motor. In fact, by using a copper wire, a double AA battery, and 3 magnets they were able to create a functioning homopolar motor of their own! They also learned about the push and pull or the two polar ends of a battery by placing a battery with magnets on either end and watching it move through a copper wire coil. One of the favorite experiments was to learn about air pressure with a little fire, a bottle, and a hard-boiled egg!
Finally, the day ended with the much anticipated “Wire Wars”. After being split into teams of 5, an Olympic style set of games was started. This included tug of war (using Northwire cable), de-winding a retractile cord by hand, improv with cable, and cable reel races. No “Wire Wars” would be complete without 3D printed trophies!
Our hope is that each child learned something new about the importance of their parents’ job while being inspired to pursue a career in manufacturing - no matter which department they are interested in! Although we had to pull kids away from their typical day filled with watching YouTube or playing video games, the general consensus was that it was a fun day and the kids confirmed that they would come back again next year. With feedback like that, I think we will chalk the day up to a success!