October is National Manufacturing Month
“We are fortunate to have such diversity of manufacturing in Champaign County,” said Marcia Bailey, CEP Director. “We want our young people to understand the career choices that exist in manufacturing and having this opportunity helps them gain first-hand knowledge. We have approximately 3,700 people working in manufacturing in our community and many companies are looking for skilled employees.”
Last year, the CEP, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, Urbana University, and manufacturers from around the area created the inaugural Champaign County Design Challenge. After a successful first year, the design challenge is returning. For the second year in a row, approximately 90 students from Graham, Mechanicsburg, Triad, Urbana, and West Liberty-Salem are participating.
The student teams were challenged to design a mousetrap race car within a series of criteria and constraints under the guidance of an industry mentor. Each school participating can have up to four teams with five students and is open to middle or high school students. For the challenge, the mousetrap car must include five simple machines and four wheels with the goal of the car going 20 feet. The teams cannot purchase or 3D print materials.
The mentors for the teams are Steven Brandeberry from JWP, Zack Zizzo and Stephen Oser from Orbis, Mike Wagner from Navistar, Colin Turcu, Hayden Gephart, and Ethan Hess from KTH, Jeff Helman from Rosewood Machine and Tool, Jacob Schmitt from Ultra-Met, Dan Yohey from Rittal, Tyler Bumbalough from the Urbana City Engineering division, and Steve McCall from Champaign County Engineer.
“The goal of the design challenge is to expose students to local manufacturers, interact with professionals, and use their creativity to complete a project,” said Allison Koch, Ohio Hi-Point Satellite Supervisor. “The groups are being judged on their collaboration and their ability to explain their successes and challenges.”
The teams compete at their school district and the winning team from each school district advance to the countylevel competition held at Urbana University on November 1. All participants are invited to listen to the finalists present each team’s design to the judges.
During the event, students are also able to participate in a tradeshow with local manufacturers.
“Design thinking happens at the intersection of art and science. Designers direct our lifestyle, create our products, and shape the environments where we live, work, and play,” said Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and CEO of Urbana University. “Urbana University is proud to host the Champaign County Design Challenge event for young designers in our region.”
The Champaign County Design Challenge trophy is currently housed at last year’s winning school, Triad High School.
For more information about manufacturing programs for students, please visit www.ohiohipoint.com or www.urbana.edu.
By Kathy Fox, Urbana Daily Citizen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representatives of Parker Trutec, on Upper Valley Pike, and Rosewood Machine & Tool Co., on Kiser Lake Road, said Honda’s plan to idle a second-shift production line at the Marysville assembly plant, as it slows production of Accords, may have little impact on their businesses.
Honda has said buyers’ interest in SUVs and small trucks is rising and interest in small cars is declining, hence the slowdown of the production line, which is to begin in August and may last a few years.
“The impact depends on the duration,” said Jeff Helman, a vice president of the Rosewood business.
Both local businesses manufacture products for Honda, but not only for its Accord line, and both businesses manufacture products for customers besides Honda.
“We do a lot of service parts for Honda not tied in with production lines,” said Brian Beatty, Parker Trutec plant manager. “We are unclear at this point,” he said of potential impact to his plant. “We need to research to see about the impact.”
He added, “Business is good otherwise.”
Beatty said he expects any impact to be minor for the plant, which has about 180 workers.
About 95% of Parker Trutec’s business is automotive, with orders coming from Honda as well as other vehicle manufacturers. “It can have an impact, but it’s not unprecedented,” Helman said. “They make these kinds of adjustments from time to time … “It’s no secret Accord sales are down … the public wants these little crossover SUVs.
“Honda’s been adept at changing tooling,” he added. “Their lines are designed to change to other models.”
He said the Rosewood business is a Honda supplier for tooling and equipment. “We make parts to make the cars.
“Honda’s been a very good customer, a good partner for us,” Helman said, adding that the local business manufactures products for Honda facilities besides its Marysville plant, as well as for businesses other than the automotive industry.
“Our objective has always been to be diversified,” he said, adding the company, which employs about 40 people, manufactures products for various types of customers, including those in the HVAC and food-processing industries.
“Honda has a huge impact on this area of the state,” Helman said. Noting that companies across the state manufacture products for Honda, he said it could take time for any impact to materialize.
“It’s not time to panic. It’s time to adjust to changes in the market,” he said, adding he thinks Honda has such a plan.
Honda has said there will be no layoffs, although voluntary buyouts will be offered.
Helman said if jobs are affected, people will find a “positive job market.”
“We’re all dealing with people shortages,” he said. “There are jobs out there. If we could find the right people, we could use a couple people.”
Although messages left at Honda supplier KTH Parts Industries Inc. were not returned, a June 2016 article in the Daily Citizen quotes a KTH spokesperson as noting consumers’ growing interest in SUVs over smaller vehicles and saying KTH, located on state Route 235, was making changes to adjust to this shift in interest.
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.