Cooper Tire will connect with many students — primarily eighth-graders — during National Manufacturing Day events next week in Findlay.

Cooper is marking its fourth year as a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ and the Manufacturing Institute’s “Dream It. Do It.” program.

In addition to participating in some community-wide efforts, Cooper will host its own “Cooper Manufacturing Experience” events.

The interactive, hands-on events have been planned by a group of about 40 early-career Cooper Tire employees from across the company who work with students year-round to educate and improve the image of careers in manufacturing, with the goal of strengthening the future workforce pipeline.

“If we want students to consider careers in manufacturing, we need to show them firsthand how exciting and technology-driven today’s manufacturing environment is,” said John Bollman, Cooper’s chief human resources officer.

“To effectively reach students, nothing beats Cooper’s ‘Manufacturing Experience,’ which gives them an opportunity to see, touch and try equipment and talk directly with people who are part of the everyday working world here at Cooper,” Bollman said. “Every year, we witness the perceptions of students change right before our eyes once they see and understand what we do, and envision themselves a part of it someday. That’s powerful.”

While National Manufacturing Day is officially Oct. 5 this year, the “Cooper Manufacturing Experience” will be offered to students in Cooper communities across the country throughout the month of October. In Findlay, it will be observed Oct. 2-5.

Cooper’s global headquarters, technical facilities and a tire manufacturing/distribution facility are located here, and about 1,000 eighth-grade students from 11 schools will come to an outdoor event at company headquarters Oct. 2-5 to experience 16 different interactive stations.

The stations, which include tire design, mold design, mixing, the millroom, tire assembly, curing, finishing and tire testing, engage students in understanding the manufacturing process.

The students will also learn about careers in research and development, engineering, marketing, human resources, and procurement. For example, students will have an opportunity to see 3D printing and learn how 3D prototypes are used in tire production.

They will also see robotics equipment working and help hand-inspect tires to see how Cooper ensures quality.

United Steelworkers Local 207L will host an interactive trivia contest where students can show off what they have learned.

New activities in Findlay this year include an opportunity for students to use radio frequency identification scanners to understand how Cooper deploys them in its operations, and they will race each other to assemble Lego vehicles using lean manufacturing techniques.

In addition, from Oct. 3-5, Ohio State University will showcase its award-winning EcoCAR2 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. The car bested 14 other universities in an advanced vehicle technology competition sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors, with support from Cooper.

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