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MCCTC students view carmaking on Mfg. Day

Wesley Gilbert says he’s always been a bit of a tinkerer. The senior engineering student at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center likes to take things apart and put them back together or modify them in some way.


Wesley Gilbert says he’s always been a bit of a tinkerer. The senior engineering student at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center likes to take things apart and put them back together or modify them in some way.

So, when Gilbert had the opportunity Friday to talk to trainers at the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Complex who teach new employees about robots, he took it.

“I thought it was amazing,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert and other engineering students as well precision machining, welding and auto-collision students toured the West Plant at GM Lords-

town, where the Chevrolet Cruze is built, for National Manufacturing Day – a day when manufacturers open their doors to show what manufacturing is like today.

The tour launched a mentoring partnership between MCCTC and the Lordstown plant. GM manufacturing engineers and members of the United Auto Workers Locals 1112 and 1714 will offer mentoring to support MCCTC’s new Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative – RAMTEC – lab.

The school received a $500,000 RAMTEC Straight A grant from the Ohio Department of Education to build the lab, which is expected to be open by the first of next year.

The West Plant is where the Cruze build begins. Inside, 1,200 robots and 1,400 employees work three shifts to build the compact car. The Cruze starts as a steel coil. That steel is stamped, some parts are welded and the metal pieces of the car are put together to form the shell before it’s shipped off to the East Plant where assembly takes place.

Students received the firsthand experience of what takes place inside the West Plant.

First, they had to learn the importance of safety. Safety glasses and sleeves were a must before the hourlong tour began.

Dave McClintick, quality manager at the West Plant, showed off the metal presses where both small and large metal parts, including panels, are stamped out. The body side is the biggest panel made at the plant.

“We do have to stay on top of it,” McClintick said. “We are always trying to make things better based off of the feedback [we receive] from assembly.”

Sparks flew as students watched how the robots in the plant dance around one another to build the Cruze.

The Cruze never touches the ground as it flies from one part of the plant to the next covering 23.5 miles.

The West Plant has two sides: one where the robots do the work and the other where the car comes together with human labor.

Before the shell of the Cruze enters the paint shop on the assembly side, it goes through a major inspection under bright lights.

“The white lights, they simulate a daylight condition,” Mayon Maxey, training manager and engineer at the plant, told the students. “That’s used to inspect for high and low points and also dents and dings.”

Walter Baber, engineering instructor at MCCTC, wanted his students to see what they learn in the classroom work in real applications.

“We do most of what they have out here on the floor,” Baber said. “They recognized the autonomous programming for the automated guided vehicles. They were recognizing the sensors in the motors of the robots.”

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Institute, also celebrated National Manufacturing Day.

Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally presented a Manufacturing Day Proclamation at the Youngstown Business Incubator downtown, and The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, or MAGNET, presented additive manufacturing insights at America Makes for the event.

Jay Williams, former mayor of Youngstown and now the U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, was the keynote speaker for the event. In the afternoon, America Makes opened its doors for tours.

The institute on Boardman Street in downtown Youngstown is the first additive manufacturing hub created by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Originally published by The Vindicator, here.

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7300 North Palmyra Rd., Canfield, OH 44406 • High School - 330-729-4000 • Adult Division - 330-729-4100

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