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Manufacturing Day Virtual Labs for Middle Schools to Launch in October

In General Stanley McChrystal's book Team of Teams, the author shares the importance of adaptability and having the capacity to respond swiftly and effectively as situations arise. As a former educator, I experienced the constant need to adjust to new curriculums or adapt current ones to fit students' needs. More recently, as a process improvement specialist who worked with manufacturers across the state, I observed manufacturer response to changing markets, supply chains disruptions, and internal challenges. As technology has progressed, and done so at warp speed, a company's ability to pivot quickly and refocus effectively has become an integral part of successful strategic planning across all industries. But just when adaptability, as a means of driving operations, began weaving itself into normalcy, COVID-19 took the wheel and floored the pedal.

The one thing predictable about the reopening of schools this fall is that it will be fluid. There is a real concern that learning gaps will emerge, derailing student progress if educational instruction is not engaging and relevant. For the upcoming school year, more so than any thus far, educators from across the state and all levels of the school system need the type of support our program provides. Even as the pandemic hit, the Explore program had expanded both in terms of the number of school and manufacturers participating. Frankly, if we do not adapt and step up to help our educational partners, progress will stall at a time it is critical for us to deliver. The long-term impact will only compound the workforce challenges manufacturers continue to face.

In response to teachers, parents, and county superintendent requests, the Explore Program is building a comprehensive COVID response plan for virtual engagement to provide career readiness tools, aligned with state educational objectives, for West Virginia classrooms. We are restructuring how the Explore Program provides interaction between manufacturers, teachers, and students. This robust initiative meets educators' critical needs as they navigate the new normal of what education will look like this fall. Providing rich, connective content for the educators at this vital juncture will increase the Explore Program's ability to construct a long-term workforce pipeline, fueled in part by teacher participation and recommendations.

Launching in October, Manufacturing Day Virtual Labs will be the first phase of the Explore Program's COVID-19 response. Each virtual lab will feature one West Virginia manufacturer. Utilizing a pre-recorded conversational format, lab hosts will provide fresh insight into what it is like to be a manufacturer. A short lab or demonstration will illustrate the company's manufacturing process, and some of the necessary skills workers rely on to create West Virginia made products.

Interest in learning how your company can be featured in a virtual lab? Check out the Virtual Labs FAQs tip sheet (https://www.exploremfgwv.com/students/virtual-programming/virtual-labs-faq.html). To sign-up contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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