By Jim Newell
For Teddy Anderson, a junior at Lake Orion High School, seeing what the professionals at Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems do could be a glimpse into his future.
Teddy and 17 of his classmates toured Atlas Copco in Auburn Hills as part of Oakland County’s fourth annual Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5.
And that’s what county executives had hoped for – to pair students interested in pursuing a career in the skilled trades, manufacturing, engineering and design industries with local businesses so the county could retain skilled professionals.
“Nearly 1,000 students from around the county are visiting 43 manufacturers for tours highlighting the world of advanced manufacturing and the skilled trades. The ultimate goal of the event is to help address the talent shortage in this critical Michigan business sector,” said Joe St. Henry, marketing coordinator in the Oakland County Economic Development & Community Affairs department.
Lake Orion High School students from the Manufacturing and Engineering and Engineering Design classes visited Atlas Copco on Manufacturing Day, said teacher Sharon Spencer. “This real-world exposure is huge, so that they can actually see, touch and interact with the industry experts. We can only do so much in the classroom.”
The Lake Orion students’ interests ranged across a broad spectrum of engineering fields – software, mechanical, industrial and aerospace – and architecture and industrial psychology.
“Ever since I was a kid I liked to build things out of Legos and it just kind of carried through,” said Teddy Anderson, who wants to be an architect. “It’s pretty cool to see the actual tools and all the manufacturing and design stuff they do here.”
Marketing Communications Manager Leea Huffine said Atlas Copco encourages young people to learn about what careers it can offer and took part in Manufacturing Day to expose students to the Swedish-owned company.
“We thought it was a good opportunity because we offer a lot of internship programs,” Huffine said. “People say, ‘Who is Atlas Copco?’ So, if we can get our name out there early in the minds of these students that are focusing in the engineering and project management fields, then they will remember us, hopefully, in four-five-six years once they graduate high school and college.”
Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems is a design and manufacturing company specializing in fasteners, press machines and industrial tools. The company engineers solutions for their customers, helping to streamline their processes and increase efficiency and productivity.
The auto industry is one of Atlas Copco’s largest customer base.
One-third of the cars in the world are assembled with Atlas Copco tools, said Marketing Director Will Palumbo, adding that Airbus, Boeing, Caterpillar and John Deere are other customers of the company’s products.
Huffine said it’s important for students today to focus on the science, technology and engineering fields for the jobs of tomorrow.
“We are finding that there is a shortage in these kinds of fields. So, to be able to find good, quality people to fill this is important,” Huffine said. “Our selection is very low, so to have kids know what they want to do this early on is really good. And it gives us a wider range of opportunities in the future.”
“Manufacturing Day in Oakland County has grown each year,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “It’s encouraging to see the increased numbers of students going on tours and the large number of Oakland County companies interested in hosting students. We expect the event to inspire our young people to consider pursuing a career in advanced manufacturing or the skilled trades, which are both so important to the future of our county and virtually all of our companies and communities.”
“With nearly 110,000 manufacturing career openings through 2024, exposing students to opportunities in this high-demand, high-wage field is extremely important for Michigan’s continued economic success,” said Workforce Development Agency Director Stephanie Beckhorn. “Manufacturing Day events held not only in Oakland County but around Michigan play an important role in helping students learn about the vast opportunities available in professional trades careers like manufacturing.”
During the visit, the Lake Orion students learned about Atlas Copco’s fixture tools and out-of-the-box products.
“So, technically, a customer could come in and order these individual nut runners, or they could order tool cables if they need spares. But we also offer the engineered solutions. Say they have hub nut and they need five bolts fastened, we engineer a solution so they could do all five at one time,” Huffine said. “And it takes a team to design and engineer that solution.”
Atlas Copco employs 45,000 people globally, 6,000 people across the United States with 300 people in the Auburn Hills headquarters and another 400 who work remotely, Huffine said.
To appeal to workers and retain talent in the 21st Century, Atlas Copco offers a variety of conveniences to help simplify their employees’ lives, the things many job-seekers don’t think of when applying for a position: dry cleaning services, car-washing services, a casual dress code, holiday parties.
“It’s a very good environment to work in, but people don’t see that from the outside,” Huffine said.
Students interested in internship opportunities can contact the Atlas Copco Human Resources Department, or call the company’s front desk at 248-373-3000 and ask for HR.