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Penn-Trafford junior Natalie Wilson made a connection in more ways than one Friday when she and two schoolmates rigged a power source to a fan and two light bulbs, creating a parallel circuit with a uniform voltage.
The electrical challenge they solved at Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center gave Wilson another perspective on the circuits that are a basic element in the robotics she’s studying at her high school.
“We’re working with these circuits, and that’s something with robotics and electrical engineering, too,” she said. “I haven’t really gotten a lot of chances to work with circuits before, so it was cool to do this and see how the wiring affects everything.”
Wilson was one of about 160 female students in grades 8-12 from 18 area high schools and two technology centers who participated in the college’s fourth annual Women in Manufacturing event. The half-day program, held during national Manufacturing Month, exposed the students to manufacturing skills and careers they may want to explore.
“Women a lot of times don’t have the opportunities to know about jobs and careers in the manufacturing industry,” said Mary Catherine Motchar, a member of the college’s Education Foundation and coordinator of Friday’s program. “Our goal is to let girls know of the opportunities available to them beside what they normally find out from guidance counselors. We’re trying to open their minds.”
Manufacturing jobs provide family-sustaining wages, and demand is up for skilled workers in the field, according to Motchar.
“With Baby Boomers retiring, a lot of manufacturers are having trouble finding employees,” she said, noting welders particularly are in demand. “Women make the best welders because they have different dexterity and hand-eye coordination.”
Jessica Rancourt of Latrobe, who will complete her WCCC studies in computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing in May, advised the visiting high school students to augment a manufacturing degree with certifications in operating various machines, She said employers put a high value on “a lot of the different technology you can work with.”
The students were able to sample 10 skill stations, including soldering, computer-controlled machining and virtual welding. They used a plasma cutter to craft a pumpkin-shaped metal decoration and a polisher to finish it.
“I’d like to program robots,” said Riley Mance, a ninth-grader at Yough School District who practiced picking up small parts with robotic arms. “We learned how to move the arms around to complete different tasks,” she said.
The students also used 3-D printing technology to complete facial scans and to create a small test block.
“You can take scans of people’s bodies and make a custom cast or braces that would enable better healing,” WCCC adjunct instructor Max Inks told the group.
He was assisted by Olivia Genarro, a Hempfield Area alumna is completing her WCCC associate degree in mechanical engineering and engineering technology. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a career in the aerospace and defense contracting industry. 
“Definitely, 3-D printing has applications there,” she said.
The Advanced Technology Center near New Stanton planned a similar Friday evening program to introduce local women to manufacturing careers.
 Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

Penn-Trafford junior Natalie Wilson made a connection in more ways than one Friday when she and two schoolmates rigged a power source to a fan and two light bulbs, creating a parallel circuit with a uniform voltage. The electrical challenge they solved at Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center gave Wilson another perspective on the circuits that are a basic element in the robotics she’s studying at her high school. “We’re working with these circuits, and that’s something with robotics and electrical engineering, too,” she said. “I haven’t really gotten a lot of chances to work with circuits before, so it was cool to do this and see how the wiring affects everything.” Wilson was one of about 160 female students in grades 8-12 from 18 area high schools and two technology centers who participated in the college’s fourth annual Women in Manufacturing event. The half-day program, held during national Manufacturing Month, exposed the students to manufacturing skills and careers they may want to explore. “Women a lot of times don’t have the opportunities to know about jobs and careers in the manufacturing industry,” said Mary Catherine Motchar, a member of the college’s Education Foundation and coordinator of Friday’s program. “Our goal is to let girls know of the opportunities available to them beside what they normally find out from guidance counselors. We’re trying to open their minds.” Manufacturing jobs provide family-sustaining wages, and demand is up for skilled workers in the field, according to Motchar. “With Baby Boomers retiring, a lot of manufacturers are having trouble finding employees,” she said, noting welders particularly are in demand. “Women make the best welders because they have different dexterity and hand-eye coordination.” Jessica Rancourt of Latrobe, who will complete her WCCC studies in computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing in May, advised the visiting high school students to augment a manufacturing degree with certifications in operating various machines, She said employers put a high value on “a lot of the different technology you can work with.” The students were able to sample 10 skill stations, including soldering, computer-controlled machining and virtual welding. They used a plasma cutter to craft a pumpkin-shaped metal decoration and a polisher to finish it. “I’d like to program robots,” said Riley Mance, a ninth-grader at Yough School District who practiced picking up small parts with robotic arms. “We learned how to move the arms around to complete different tasks,” she said. The students also used 3-D printing technology to complete facial scans and to create a small test block. “You can take scans of people’s bodies and make a custom cast or braces that would enable better healing,” WCCC adjunct instructor Max Inks told the group. He was assisted by Olivia Genarro, a Hempfield Area alumna is completing her WCCC associate degree in mechanical engineering and engineering technology. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a career in the aerospace and defense contracting industry. “Definitely, 3-D printing has applications there,” she said. The Advanced Technology Center near New Stanton planned a similar Friday evening program to introduce local women to manufacturing careers. Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

20 October 2017, 11:00 pm

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