Fairmont, WV, July 6, 2023 – Explore the New Manufacturing is pleased to announce that Putnam County Technical Center (PCTC) has been named the 2023 State Champion for the Explore Manufacturing Innovation Challenge for their project with Toyota West Virginia. The company challenged the students with a robotics project designed to improve ergonomics and increase productivity on the production line.
When asked why developing a solution is important to Toyota West Virginia, the team stated: "It was important to develop a solution that not only helps employees on the line work more efficiently, but also uses cobots to reduce repetitive motions."
Participating PCTC students included AJ Dunbar, Connor Bush, Brett Winter, Jacob Ingram and faculty advisor, Cheryll Roberts. Students were able to draw support from the Toyota West Virginia team to help reach their goal.
“It was great to work with the students and staff from Putnam Career and Technical Center,” said David Rosier, Toyota West Virginia President. “This kind of immersive, hands-on experience is an excellent way to learn more about advanced manufacturing and allows a new generation of students to be a part of the interesting work that happens on today’s production floor. Through these kinds of activities, we can show how bright, clean and high-tech these jobs are and make students aware of the one-of-a-kind career opportunities they have right here in Putnam County.
Toyota West Virginia employees David Newberry, Jacob Plasters, Penny Potocki, and Ben Underwood contributed project support for the students.
“It has been exciting to watch the PCTC/Toyota partnership this year,” said Program Director Monica Cross, who oversees the Explore the New Manufacturing Program on behalf of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association Educational Fund’s efforts to create student awareness and excitement about careers in manufacturing and the training opportunities for these positions in their local areas. “We ask our corporate partners to help the students understand the process used to create their products and provide insight into the work culture and employee roles in the manufacturing process. Toyota Motor amplified our suggestion by providing an engineer who met weekly with the team. The result was not only a state championship but also an impactful experience for the students.”
Explore's Manufacturing Innovation Challenge is designed to allow high school student teams to solve real-world manufacturing problems faced by West Virginia manufacturers. Each challenge is unique and can come from a variety of aspects of the company's operations. Students learn how problem-solving skills are a critical element to job performance. The challenge concludes with a formal team presentation, after which students and manufacturers discuss the feasibility of implementing the solution. The experience illustrates how teamwork, adaptability, and communication skills are used to implement the industry's solutions.