Exploring Manufacturing in a Virtual World – Year Recap

Jun 10, 2021

Although this year didn’t look like anything we have seen before… there are still many successes to look back on!  We pivoted to a virtual world for learning and working, but continued to spread manufacturing awareness to the community. This year we had the opportunity to introduce new virtual resources and practices that we will use going into the next year and beyond. We also tackled the task of altering our programs to work in a virtual world and continued to run with the hard work of our team and the hard work of every participating school!

New things that happened this year:

  • Marvels of Manufacturing
    • This short project was introduced as a second option for schools who didn’t want to participate in the virtual video contest. Students were incentivized to participate in this project with a mini raffle at the end.
    • It is a completely virtual project for students in middle and/or high school that incudes playing our mobile game Cube Cut, creating a custom Cube Cut level, writing a short essay, and watching some quick videos.
    • Marvels of Manufacturing is now available to everyone!
  • Virtual Scavenger Hunts
    • We created virtual scavenger hunts for students based around our What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Video Contest to explore manufacturing from their homes!
    • These scavenger hunts have students watch videos created by local middle school students in partnership with local manufacturing companies and complete worksheets with questions about the videos.
  • Virtual Panel Discussions
    • We hosted various virtual panel discussions for a live audience. These allowed students and teachers to interact with professionals from manufacturing companies and learn more about what they do – even though they couldn’t visit their companies!
    • Watch the panel discussions here.
  • Manufacturing Navigators
    • We introduced a new program funded by the Arconic Foundation.
    • Navigators are manufacturing industry ambassadors dedicated to increasing industry awareness. Our Navigators use their personal, educational, and professional experience to tell the story of careers in manufacturing, explain the journey to becoming a successful manufacturing professional, and offer increased visibility inside a manufacturers daily life.
    • Learn more about the Navigators here.
  • Explore the New Manufacturing Website Rebrand
    • Our youthfully themed website (that you’re on right now!) was relaunched in January 2021! Our rebranded website provides information about careers in manufacturing for students, parents, and teachers. 
    • Students can find videos and other information about careers in manufacturing. 
    • Teachers will see resources for their classrooms including experiential learning programs, lesson plans, and virtual experiences. 
    • Parents can learn about how manufacturing has changed and what resources are available for their young ones to pursue these careers. 
    • Additional resources, events, and career guidance are provided through the blog.
  • @catalyst_workforce Instagram Rebrand
    • We rebranded our Instagram account to talk about all of our workforce programs – not only our K-12 programs.
    • Our Instagram now touches on our IMT Apprenticeship, OPNext, Making Your Future, and other workforce programs.
    • Be sure to follow us to stay up to date!

Programs that pivoted:

  • What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Video Contest
    • The video contest was fully virtual this year! Although being virtual made some things challenging it allowed for the geographical boundaries to be broken. We combined all of our regional contests into one with a total of 17 teams. The teams are typically paired with companies local to their school, but this year they were able to explore companies beyond their backyard. All 17 teams created wonderfully made videos!
    • The teams normally go into the companies to interview and film content, but this year they interviewed companies via online meeting platforms and were provided photos and videos from the company to use.
    • The contest finished off with a virtual award ceremony that streamed on Catalyst Connection’s YouTube channel.
  • Manufacturing Innovation Challenge
    • The Manufacturing Innovation Challenge projects were all virtual this year!
    • This program was pretty simple to pivot to virtual due to the flexibility of it.
    • Students met with the companies virtually to learn about what they do and were presented with their “problem” to solve.
    • Once they found their “solution”, the students presented to the companies virtually.
  • IMT Pre-Apprenticeship
    • The Pre-Apprenticeship was very popular this year with it’s all virtual MSSC Safety and Quality curriculum! The changing world didn’t alter this program at all.
    • Five schools participated in the program this year and many more plan to participate next school year.
  • National Manufacturing Day
    • Normally we host an event for National Manufacturing Day, but this year we had a WHOLE WEEK of virtual activities and events for students and teachers!
    • View the week of events flyer here.