RIT commemorates National Manufacturing Day with Corvette engine build and demonstrations

Manufacturing engineering technology program sponsors daylong activities to highlight career options in the advanced manufacturing field today

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A. Sue Weisler

General Motors donated two heavy-duty industrial robots to RIT’s College of Applied Science at Technology in July 2015. Steve Finch, plant manager of GM Tonawanda, participated in the dedication event, highlighting the prospects of RIT’s students using the robots to learn more about next generation manufacturing and automation. He and several process engineers return to campus for National Manufacturing Day activities on Friday, Oct. 7.

Rochester Institute of Technology is hosting members of the General Motors Powertrain plant as part of National Manufacturers Day, Oct. 7 at the university. The team will break down and re-build a Corvette engine from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the atrium of RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. It will be the opening event of a full day of activities to highlight how manufacturing has evolved in the U.S. and the skills necessary for careers in the field.

General Motors donated two industrial robots to RIT’s Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Department last year, and part of the Manufacturing Day lineup will be a demonstration by RIT students and GM engineers of the robots. GM Tonawanda Engine Plant Manager Steve Finch will participate in that demonstration and discuss manufacturing industry trends and how students prepare for manufacturing positions with companies. From noon to 2 p.m. in Golisano Hall, room 2400, alumni of the manufacturing, mechanical and electrical engineering technology program, part of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, will be part of a panel discussion on experiences and changes in manufacturing. Participants will be Art Smith ’99, senior automation controls engineer at Corning Inc.; Jim Brooker ’04, ’08, vice president, engineering R&D, Otis Technology; Michael Seversky ’09, manufacturing engineering manager, The Gleason Works; John Bulzacchelli ’15, BorgWarner Inc.; and Chet Konarski ’03, electrical test engineer, Harris Corp.

Events are free. The morning engine rebuild is open to campus members. The afternoon panel discussion is open to CAST students, faculty and staff.

According to the Manufacturing Institute, there remains a skill gap of more than 2 million openings over the next decade for manufacturing positions, from skilled production workers to engineers, scientists and researchers. Between 2004 and 2012, U.S. manufacturing industry lost $9 billion to $25 billion per year of output because of open positions that went unfilled, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“RIT’s manufacturing, mechanical, electrical-mechanical, and electrical engineering technology programs educate students to adapt, grow, and succeed in a highly competitive workplace,” said Robert Garrick, professor and acting department chair of CAST’s Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Department. “The department’s curriculum includes manufacturing processes, mechanical design, electrical and mechanical system integration, and conventional and alternative manufacturing processes. These programs prepare students for a variety of engineering careers including those in manufacturing, process, tool, and metrology engineering fields.”

A pipeline of skilled employees capable of designing and implementing new technologies in advanced manufacturing to increase productivity will be the basis for new products, services and global expansion, Garrick explained. RIT’s manufacturing and mechanical engineering program has more than 600 students in the program and graduated over 150 new engineers during the past academic year. Co-op students and graduates are employed in all major industries such as aerospace, chemical, computer, defense, energy and manufacturing.