Return to Headlines

McHenry MTI Expo attracts hundreds to learn about manufacturing, trades, industry

McHenry MTI Expo attracts hundreds to learn about manufacturing, trades, industry

mti expo pciture

More than 300 students and their families came out Tuesday (Oct. 2) to get a first-hand look at careers in manufacturing, trades and industry businesses at the third annual MTI Expo at McHenry High School-East Campus.

With more than 65 businesses participating, this year’s event was the biggest, said Karyn Burmeister, division chair of Career and Technology Education for McHenry High School District 156.

Leaders from local organizations and businesses set up tables in the school’s gymnasium to display products and services, and frequently offered hands-on explanations of day-to-day operations. Students and their families learned about education, skills and training necessary for manufacturing, trades and industry careers.

The need for skilled workers is a well-documented struggle for many companies. According to a 2015-2025 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 3.5 million jobs nationwide will need to be filled over the decade, but a skills gap is predicted to leave 2 million job open.

Closer to home, a recent Northwest Herald article reports that officials at four Crystal Lake manufacturing companies are having a hard time finding workers.

Through a partnership between the high schools, McHenry County College and local business leaders, the Expo gives young people a chance to meet local industry representatives and learn about career paths available for those interested in working in manufacturing, trades and industry.

“I absolutely think it’s the best one we go to,” Keith Wagner, president of Fabrik Molded Plastics in McHenry, said of the Expo. “Every year we’ve found somebody new here.”

Wagner said between six and 12 high school students have interned at his manufacturing plant each year since the company partnered with local high schools about 10 years ago. At Tuesday’s Expo, students could sign up for a tour of his McHenry plant.

“We have success stories,” Wagner said.

One of those success stories is Dustin D’Amelio, a senior at West Campus, who has been doing a rotation internship for more than a year with Fabrik. His internship with the company allows him to work in several departments, including tool room, maintenance and engineering.

He works at Fabrik for about four hours a day and takes classes at West. So far, tool and die work is capturing his interest, D’Amelio said.

“I’ve become a lot more informed about the industry,” he said.

Mike Gonzales, operations manager for Sphere Laser in St. Charles, said teaching young people about the industry is important to developing future leaders. Gonzales and his brother John, business development manager for Sphere, showed Expo attendees what lasers are capable of doing with samples of wood, plastic and other materials that were imprinted with logos and other designs.

Mike Gonzales said, “All of the kids who went through said, ‘Oh, a laser did that?’”

When young people go through the Expo, they can get a look at the science behind manufacturing, trades and industry businesses, said Mike Gonzales, a graduate of McHenry East Campus.

“They (business leaders) are always looking for good people,” Mike Gonzales said.

Karyn Burmeister said the Expo is not only a great opportunity for students, but some parents have also found employment at the event. The Expo is way to help all students pursue their post-secondary pathways to future career opportunities.

“It’s led to some pretty exciting things,” Burmeister said.

The first Expo drew about 40 businesses, and it has steadily grown since then, she said.

The MTI Expo also included raffle prizes for attendees, and three scholarships were awarded, courtesy of the McHenry Sunrise Rotary Club.



mti expo

CAPTION FOR PHOTO (S):  McHenry High School District 156 officials are pleased with the growth in participation in the annual Manufacturing, Trades and Industry Expo. This year’s event drew more than 65 business, and 300 students and families.