OrthoWorx announced expansions of its talent development initiative that is focused on generating awareness of careers in local manufacturing companies.

Programming in 2019 will build on the success of 2018’s DiscoverME (Manufacturing Experiences) program, which was directed at eighth-grade students in Kosciusko County.

DiscoverME is again taking place across Kosciusko County and this year will be augmented with RealME, a one-day interactive program for high school sophomores.

During this week, aligning with National Manufacturing Week, DiscoverME will engage all eighth-grade students in the Tippecanoe Valley, Warsaw, Wawasee and Whitko school corporations with manufacturing plant tours and curriculum built into their classes, focusing on career opportunities within advanced manufacturing.

“We had such a positive response to our program last year that we were excited to build on it again this year,” said Nichole Rouached, OrthoWorx manager of communications and projects.

“The need for qualified candidates for manufacturing positions has gotten even more critical, so we want middle and high school students and their parents to be aware of the many incredible opportunities here in Kosciusko County.”

In addition to the eighth-grade program, a team of OrthoWorx interns developed a companion program called RealME, which is focused on high school sophomores. The program will happen Friday, National Manufacturing Day, on the Grace College campus.

“With the eighth-grade program, our goal is to raise awareness, particularly of advanced manufacturing positions so that students can factor that information into their high school curriculum planning,” said Rouached. “High school freshmen are exposed to a state-required career awareness program, so the sophomore program, RealME, aims to reinforce what they’ve learned in the prior two school years and broadens their understanding of all the career opportunities involved in the total manufacturing process.”

During the DiscoverME program, 40 guest speakers from local companies will visit classrooms to discuss their careers in manufacturing. Additionally, approximately 1,100 eighth-graders will tour either the Warsaw Area Career Center or the Wawasee Area Career and Technical Center, the Ivy Tech Orthopedic and Advanced Manufacturing Training Center and one of the following manufacturing facilities: DePuy Synthes, Medtronic, Paragon Medical, Polywood, Precision Medical Technologies or Zimmer Biomet.

For the RealME program, sophomores from the four school corporations will travel to the Grace College campus to learn about the wide diversity of careers surrounding manufacturing and the opportunities for training in the area to prepare for those careers. Students will also participate in a hands-on exercise that mimics the manufacturing process. The exercises will be guided by volunteers from area manufacturers, Grace College and Ivy Tech.

“We have had incredible support and cooperation from our partner manufacturing companies, the four school corporations involved, Ivy Tech Community College and Grace College,” said Rouached. “In addition, the number of organizations sponsoring the programming has grown and their financial support has allowed us to make these experiences even more meaningful.”