"I'm confident that someone in this room could lead Pratt & Whitney one day," said Eileen Tremblay, Pratt & Whitney senior director, Industrial Management, to nearly 200 young women from Connecticut and Massachusetts at the recent "Making It Real: Girls and Manufacturing Summit" in Windsor, Connecticut.
Designed to introduce middle and high school girls to the creative, cutting-edge world of today's manufacturing and the rewarding careers it offers, the one-day event featured opportunities to hear from women leaders in industry as well as three hands-on activities that demonstrated manufacturing processes from concept to design, fabrication to quality control. Tremblay gave keynote remarks at the event.
"With the underrepresentation of women in manufacturing, sparking interest in future careers among girls is a priority to assure that manufacturers can attract, retain and advance women in leading, skilled positions," said Susan Palisano, director of education & workforce development, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT), which hosted the Making It Real event.
For Kara Ingalls, a teacher at East Hartford Middle School, the event provided an opportunity for students to participate in real-world simulations and to collaborate with other students.
"They are thrilled and so excited to be here," she said. "They are really getting into the challenges, which may help them decide to pursue manufacturing careers."
Laura Cannata, a teacher at East Hartford High School, saw her students applying skills they are learning in the classroom.
"They see that math, hands-on skills and the ability to work together in teams are important in the real world," she said.
A group of Pratt & Whitney employees was on hand to answer students' questions.
"They remind me of how I was at their age," said Crystal Hanson, senior materials analyst. "I'm jealous they have events like this in middle and high school. I didn't know what my options were until I went to college."
Dispelling misconceptions about manufacturing, Tremblay touted the excitement she feels working for a technology and innovation leader that is committed to a clean environment, quality and safety.
"I knew when I joined Pratt & Whitney that I wanted to be a business leader at a multimillion dollar company," she said. "I want you to know that goal is not out of reach for any of you."
The Making It Real event was sponsored by Connecticut Dream It. Do It. and Dream It. Do It. Massachusetts. Dream It. Do It. organizations are part of The Manufacturing Institute's nationwide campaign to create a positive image of manufacturing today and attract the industry's future skilled talent and leaders.