Class is in Session: Middle School Manufacturing

Looking at the fascination beaming from the young man's face, it's clear to see that this – this is the future of manufacturing – of engineering – of aviation.

"My background is manufacturing engineering," said Pratt & Whitney's Monica Arias, project manager, Global Transitions. "I know when I was in middle school and high school, I had no clue what an engineer is or what they do."

Monica Arias and other Pratt & Whitney employees recently had the chance to educate hundreds of middle school students during Manufacturing Mania, an annual event in celebration of National Manufacturing Day.

Burt Kollen, deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, called on Pratt & Whitney's military engine portfolio to get students excited about future careers in manufacturing.

"One of the engines they are making is for the – I don't if you've ever heard of it – the F-35 fighter jet," Kollen said. "It's so powerful, my whole body was shaking."

Sponsored by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), the event allows children to learn about the benefits of a career in manufacturing – something Pratt & Whitney employees like Kyle Brevick understand all too well.

"Once I learned what Pratt & Whitney was, it opened up an enormous door for me," said Brevick, a senior manufacturing engineer for Vanes-Grind.

CCAT recently announced the launch of its Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. Ambassador Program, an initiative designed to attract middle school students to the manufacturing industry. Pratt & Whitney is the first company in the state to support the program and is encouraging employees to get involved, like Arias and Brevick are doing now.

"What really got me into this field is that you get to be hands-on," Arias said. "You get to see how the product is made."

"Pratt & Whitney is focused on safety, environment and just advanced technology," added Brevick.

For many of us, this period of development seems like ages ago. But time moves fast – and the sooner the industry can capture the fascination of an eager mind, the better it is for the future of manufacturing – and aviation.

"It is cool to talk to them about how we not just work with machines, we're working with robots and new technologies," Arias said. "There's a good mix of old and new technologies with more coming down the line."