SYCAMORE – John Limberis said he wants a job where he can work with his hands, and the tour he took Friday with other area high school students helped him explore possibilities for engineering careers.
“I just like to make stuff,” the Sycamore High School junior said. “Building things, inventing new things – it’s really interesting, like how some of the engineers were designing the new equipment.”
The DeKalb Ogle Workforce Development Consortium took about 116 students from Sycamore, DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston and Rochelle Township high schools to visit engineering and manufacturing companies in DeKalb County.
Limberis’ school toured both the old and new Sycamore facilities for Ideal Industries, where he saw machines forming bits of plastic and metal into pieces for electrical equipment.
“I didn’t know that Ideal made equipment for electricians,” he said. “That was pretty cool to see.”
Gene Fogle, industrial workforce coordinator, said attendance has fluctuated in the four years the consortium has offered the “Heavy Metal Tour” program. Last year, about 85 students participated.
“We screen a little more, too, now,” Fogle said. “If the students are just looking to get a day out of school, they aren’t going with us.”
Students from Genoa-Kingston High School went to Sycamore Precision, which specializes in machine parts, power coating, valves and assembly; and to Greenlee Textron, an industrial and electrical tool manufacturer.
DeKalb students visited Alexander Lumber and Algus Packaging, while Rochelle students toured Cain Millwork and CHS Ethanol plant.
“The students are becoming more attuned to the industry and what the possibilities are,” Fogle said. “When we first started this program, they had no idea what opportunities were available in the DeKalb and Rochelle areas, and now they look forward to these events.”
Paul Cummings, a manufacturing engineer at Ideal Industries, said he recalls needing more direction in high school on what career path to take, so he tried inform students in his tour group of the various jobs at his company.
“Here we have engineers. We have tool and die makers. We have maintenance crews. We have operators,” he said. “We have it all here, so they kind of get to see a little bit of everything.”
Cummings said he first wanted to be a car mechanic, and after finding out mechanical engineering wasn’t for him, he got into his current field as a manufacturing engineer. He said he wants students to know it is OK if they end up changing careers.
“I just think that whatever career path that they want to go down, as long as it’s something that they enjoy and are passionate about and they can learn more about it, that’s the career path they should take,” Cummings said.