MFG Day 2019

Students take industrial tour during MFG Day
Posted on 10/08/2019
Steven Moore of SUSA displays a 3D scan.

Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center and Graduation Center students participated in Manufacturing Day on Thursday, Oct. 3, and were provided the opportunity to tour factories in Industrial Park. 

An annual tradition for regional schools in cooperation with the National Association of Manufacturers, engineers from local factories—including Starting USA Corporation (SUSA) and Briggs & Stratton—discussed their assembly lines and job opportunities with students. 

“Everyone has a different type of skill, whether it’s leadership – dealing with people, or feet on the floor – from electricians to machinists,” said SUSA Plant Manager Charlie Fortner during the second leg of the tour. “One thing you’ll find out in life is the more education you can get, you’ll be able to kick open some doors.” 

SUSA offers 100 percent tuition reimbursement for approved specialty courses, Fortner reported. Some of the positions require college degrees while others demand technical training. The Poplar Bluff plant spends $8 million locally on materials and has a payroll of $3.7 million, employing 130 people year-round, the plant manager stated. 

A joint venture between Starting Industrial Japan and Briggs & Stratton Corporation, SUSA has produced over 250 million engine recoil starters since 1994, primarily for power equipment at the neighboring small engine plant as well as for Honda and Kawasaki mufflers made in the Carolinas, according to Fortner.

“We need doctors, lawyers and teachers, but we also need industry people, so I’m glad to hear you’re starting to think about technical degrees,” said Brent Wlodarcik, SUSA engineering manager. “We don’t have these other professions if we don’t have the infrastructure where our economy is strong, and we need young people to take the reins.” 

Wlodarcik advised that “your attitude determines your direction,” adding “there are no boundaries.” Having worked in the industrial sector for 16 years, Wlodarcik received his bachelor’s degree from William Woods University in Fulton upon transferring from Three Rivers College. Over lunch, students received a demonstration of equipment utilized in the career technical studies program at the Poplar Bluff community college. 

Michael Barrett, who is the TCC instructor over computer science, said he was most impressed with the automation that takes place at Briggs & Stratton, and quizzed his students on what aspects of the operation are reliant on coding and programming, including the software that tracks production down to the individual operator throughout the day. The computer maintenance class led by instructor Tony Kirkley also joined in the Industrial Park visit.

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Cutline: Steven Moore of SUSA displays a 3D scan after students discover the secondary image of Abraham Lincoln on a penny using a Micro-Vu.

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