Educators learn about STEM opportunities

Educators learn about STEM opportunities
Written by: Laura Gunter
Published by: KAIT

A group of educators spent  Monday learning what skills they need to be teaching their students.

Around 30 teachers have teamed up with Congressman Rick Crawford to be a part of the STEM and Manufacturing Tour.

This group is traveling to manufacturers all over Region 8 to learn what opportunities are available to people and what students need to learn before they walk out the door.

Monday they spent the day at Arkansas Glass Container in Jonesboro.

Zach Harber with University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville said he found the visit very useful.

“We’re touring manufacturing and industry to see what skills are necessary to address the skills gap our area is facing,” Harber said. “Some of the interesting things we’ve seen at Arkansas Glass are the mechanical and technical things where some of the employees coming in need to have skills such as troubleshooting and pneumatics and hydraulics. Lots of being able to solve problems. One of the most unique things about it is the employees coming into these positions aren’t required to have four years of education. One thing for sure is they do need training and they need technical education they may receive while they are still in high school in some of their career and technical education programs.”

Harber said it’s valuable as an educator to go out into the community and take that information back to students.

“When I go out and visit manufacturing industries or tour different facilities, I’m able to take that information and take it back to the classroom and be able to teach more classroom-based things and be able to give them an application,” Harber said. “Applicability is very critical as an educator so that our students can actually see, they can put their hands on the skills they’re learning in the classroom. They can put their hands on a real-world application.”

President of Arkansas Glass Container Vicki Rampley said it was exciting to give the tour group a true picture of who they were and what they were about.

“To give them an opportunity to understand where our challenges have been to get people hired,” Rampley said. “To make people understand that they can have a great career here is great. All it takes is for the people in this group to talk to others and then we’re getting the word out as to what opportunities are here.”

Arkansas Glass Container currently employees around 250 people and Rampley said they are looking at expanding.

“We work a three day on, three day off shift,” Rampley said. “The glass furnace runs seven days a week, 24 hours a day. So, that glass keeps coming, and people are here all the time. We have a third we’re wanting to get started and bring up, but it takes people to do so. So, when we’re looking at a third line we’re looking at anywhere from 30 to 50 more people.”

Rampley said it’s a huge expansion that will benefit everyone.

“It’s an expansion that means many more dollars for the community,” Rampley said. “When you look at 265 people that live right here in this community and what they put back into the community. Like buying their homes and shopping, the schools. We’ve done this for 70 years and family owned.”

Next, the tour group will visit Delta Trailer Manufacturing in Newport, several steel mills and are even going to Mountain Home.

For more information about Arkansas Glass Container, click here.

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