Education

Virtual tour of York plant shows students manufacturing opportunities

Students in the computer integrated manufacturing curriculum at the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center, watch senior Micah Hancock conduct the virtual tour of the Meritor plant in York.
Students in the computer integrated manufacturing curriculum at the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center, watch senior Micah Hancock conduct the virtual tour of the Meritor plant in York. dworthington@heraldonline.com

More than 400 students in York and Rock Hill schools learned about the transition from school to work from employees at the Meritor plant in York – all without leaving their schools Tuesday.

Students at Saluda Trail Middle School in Rock Hill, York’s Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center and York Middle School took a live “virtual” plant tour of Meritor via the Internet.

They listened as Micah Hancock, a senior in the manufacturing operations program at the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center, interviewed managers and assembly line workers at the plant that bills itself as the “Burger King of brakes.” The York plant makes brakes for other Meritor plants as well as original equipment manufacturers which supply the automotive and truck industry.

The Meritor plant in York used technology to give middle and high school students a virtual tour. The tour guide and interviewer was a York Comprehensive High student.

They students learned that many of the habits they use in school are part of the daily working routine. Attendance is key, whether it’s at school or work. So too is reading and following instructions.

Not showing up for work on time or not following directions and instructions could get you fired, said Meritor employees.

The students learned if they apply the lessons from science, technology, math and engineering classes they can get good jobs with future potential with a high school degree.

“You need to find what you love and find out what you need to go for it,” Hancock said.

Hancock has been working at Meritor since July of 2014. She was selected as interviewer because of her knowledge of Meritor and her excellence in the manufacturing operations program at the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center.

“When I’m at Meritor I’m not a high school kid,” Hancock said. “I am an employee.”

Being treated like an employee means following directions, taking responsibility “and learning people etiquette,” Hancock said. “There is a certain way to send an email to your boss.”

Hancock interviewed Meritor workers, among them Dillon Lingerfeldt who was a senior at York when Hancock was a freshman. Lingerfeldt assembles brakes and is learning to weld at York Technical College courtesy of Meritor.

Scott Walters, Meritor’s site manager, said the virtual tour showed students that “manufacturing is still alive and growing.” Making the virtual tour a yearly event would keep “those we haved hooked” and continue to present Meritor to new classes each year.

Assisting with the virtual tour was the local STEM Foundation, which formed in 2014 to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math, as well as current industry needs, said Edward Duffy, its executive director.

Students in the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Process curriculum at the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center said they didn’t know opportunities like Meritor existed for students just out of high school.

The opportunities did not have limits.

Dana Sims graduated York High School in 1981. She started at the plant, then owned by Rockwell, as a production worker. She is now an operations manager.

Sims, speaking to the students at the technology center, said that hard work and commitment is notice and rewarded by Meritor.

“Come to work, work hard, stay at it and there is definitely an opportunity,” Sims said. “I made my job a career.”

Don Worthington: 803-329-4066, @rhherald_donw

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