Jackson State students volunteer for Manufacturing Month

JACKSON, Tenn. — Jackson State Community College manufacturing students are stepping outside of the classroom to celebrate Manufacturing Month.

“Every Monday we send a group of students in, and they provide a service for Whitney here at the Animal Care Center using the manufacturing skills that they’re learning,” said Cathi Roberts, Completion Coordinator for the Engineering Systems Technology Program.

During this month the students would typically visit local manufacturing plants, but they decided to switch it up this year.

“This year, because of COVID, we were unable to go out and do tours of factories and that sort of stuff, which is what we traditionally do. We wanted to do something a little bit different,” Roberts said.

The two year-long programs works with 30 local companies to place students in different manufacturing jobs while they are in school.

“They go to Jackson State two days a week, but they work in a manufacturing facility three days a week. In the US we have over four million jobs out there for high-skilled, high-tech manufacturing positions, so this is a high-demand career field,” Roberts said.

The students are not only volunteering to help their community, but they are learning new skills that could be used in their careers.

“Not only are we trying to train our students to be great employees, contributing citizens, but we also want them to be aware of the community around them,” Roberts said.

The students say they’ve learned a lot already.

“Anything you need to know, they can teach you. They’ve taught me to do just about everything up there. I can program the robots. I’ve been welding and fabricating. They teach you a lot in the programs,” said Parker Sowder, a Jackson State Community College student.

And they’ve helped the shelter in many different ways this month.

“Their participation has helped the shelter in a wide range of ways. It has helped increase our adoption rate for the weeks that they have been involved,” said Whitney Owen, Director of Animal Services for the City of Jackson.

They will continue to volunteer to the end of the month.

“They intend to volunteer through the end of Manufacturing Month, which is October. So next week would probably our last week with them,” Owen said.

The main goal of the program is to build and strengthen skills for manufacturing careers.

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