When most people hear of the “Heavy Metal Bus Tour” they think of rock concerts, but in central and northern Wisconsin the Heavy Metal Bus Tour is an event held in October during Manufacturing Month that gives eighth-grade students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing by touring local manufacturing facilities and technical colleges. In our area the Heavy Metal Bus Tour is made possible through a collaborative effort between Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturer’s Alliance (CWIMMA), North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, Mid-State Technical College, and other local manufacturing businesses like ourselves.
This year’s Heavy Metal Bus Tour was held on October 3rd, and it was our fifth year participating in the annual event. We had five stations set up where students were able to engage and learn about five-axis milling, CNC programming, assembling and measuring cutting tools, and laser engraving. Upon arrival students were split into five groups that rotated through each station. This year we had our youth apprentices serve as tour guides for each individual group.
According to CWIMMA—Manufacturing is the primary economic stabilizing sector in Wisconsin and the North Central Region, it is imperative that we create awareness among our youth to provide a manufacturing future for our regional economy.
After five years of participation in the Heavy Metal Tour we are starting to see the students that toured in their 8th grade year coming back to Marten Machining with an interest in Youth Apprenticeship and manufacturing careers. Seeing this positive impact makes the effort we put into the Heavy Metal Tour worthwhile and our continued participation will help us secure our future in the manufacturing industry.