What is the purpose of the Explore the New Manufacturing Program?

The Explore Program is committed to increasing the number of West Virginia students completing career paths that support the state’s manufacturing industry.  We believe it is important our student educational opportunities are fun, exciting, and build awareness about the diversity of available career options.  It is essential for us to forge strong collaborations between manufacturers and educators to help student discovery and understanding of manufacturing careers.

How does the Explore program do this?   

The Explore Team provides a myriad of educational opportunities for schools and manufacturers to create working networks that benefit both groups.  Our goal of expanding Explore's programming mission through hands-on learning and interactive experiences, with the assistance of our partners, is to engage students from elementary school through high school and post-secondary training.

Will the program be able to continue this outreach during the pandemic?

Yes, the upcoming school year, more so any thus far, educators from across the state and all levels of the school system need our help.  We have heard requests from many of the state's superintendents, schools, teachers, and parents to find a way to continue Explore's manufacturer engagement activities.

Why is this so important in the middle of a pandemic?

It is critical for educational activities to continue, so learning gaps do not derail student progress.  In recent Educators’ Roundtable discussions, teachers expressed the need for virtual engagement and career readiness linkages to align with state educational objectives and embedded in their curriculum during the fall of 2020. 

How is this beneficial to manufacturers?

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 Explore's ability to construct a long-term workforce pipeline, fueled in part by teacher participation and recommendations.  If we do not respond, Explore's momentum will stall, and manufacturers' employment challenges will increase.

What will the fall programming look like?

The Explore Program is building a comprehensive COVID response plan for virtual engagement. The program's career readiness educational tools are being aligned with state educational objectives, increasing our ability to expand into new classrooms.  Starting this school year, we are reconceptualizing how Explore provides interaction between manufacturers, teachers, and students.   Educators have told us they are seeking ways to deliver high-quality engagement virtually to their students and would welcome virtual learning components for career readiness and skill gaps.

Explore the New Manufacturing © 2020

What will be involved for participating manufacturers?

The Explore team has developed a template for Manufacturing Day Virtual Learning Labs. Each lab will feature one manufacturing partner segment (20-30 minutes / either live-streamed or pre-recorded). To streamline the production, our team will ready to help manufacturers in developing and executing their lab and supplying equipment, if applicable.  As we expand the virtual program, lab segments will be repackaged to maximize the time and effort each manufacturer made to launch this new effort.

Is there a general format lab hosts should follow for Manufacturing Day Virtual Learning Labs?

  • Introduction and share what you wanted to be when you were in 8th grade
  • Provide an overview of your educational and career journey (share why you choose this path)
  • Share information about the products and how they’re used
  • Short lab
  • Q & A

Isn’t this a lot of work for participating manufacturers?

Actually, no.  The simpler the activity, the better.  First, we arrange a 15-minute phone meeting between the manufacturer and the educator assigned to the lab to discuss learning components.  We will be looking for ways to support state objectives, determine the hands-on activity, and prepare information according to the format above.  For example, a chemical manufacturer demonstrates a chemical reaction like those that occur during the production process (aligns with state objective S.8PS.4). 

What equipment, materials, or resources will your company need to participate in Manufacturing Days Virtual Labs?

You will need a camera (can be a phone or laptop camera) for live streaming and video conferencing.

What will the Explore Program need from manufacturer partners prior to their Manufacturing Day?

  • 15-minute phone meeting with educators to discuss topic ideas.
  • A commitment by Sept 15, 2020, to participate in one virtual lab this fall. 

The Manufacturing Day Virtual Labs series will launch in October.  Our goal is to host 2 labs per month.

  • Description of the hands-on activity (we can help with these)
  • Complete the Explore Manufacturer Survey (link will be provided for the electronic survey)

What are the most critical pieces about hosting a video?

  • Relatable presenter who likes to use a conversational style
  • Cool insight to what it’s like to be a manufacturer through a hands-on activity

What doesn’t matter for a virtual presentation with middle school students?

  • The history or hierarchy of the company won’t excite middle school students
  • Forget using a corporate presentation style or technically high-level videography
  • The presenter doesn’t have to be upper management.  Relatability outweighs job titles.