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Monthlong celebration takes RSS students through manufacturing plants

SALISBURY — High school students this week are getting a first-hand look at modern manufacturing happening in their backyards.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools celebrated Manufacturing Day for the fifth year in a row on Oct. 1, but it is celebrating the day all month. This week, students are touring local facilities to take a look at the manufacturing process. Two of the tours were Wednesday at Custom Golf Car Supply in Salisbury.

The manufacturer takes frames and engines from original equipment manufacturers, designs and builds custom golf carts from the ground up. It bustles most hours of the day with plastic and metal forming, cutting, welding and upholstery work to meet the demand from customers throughout the country.

Students saw the processes that goes into manufacturing each part and warehouse space stacked high with finished product. Students also got a look at the 3-D printers the company uses for prototyping new designs.

Other manufacturers students are visiting this week include Hexagon Agility and McKenzie Creative Brands. The district is also disseminating virtual tours of many of the facilities so other people can get a look at some of the work.

Latisha Smith, instructional career coach at Salisbury High School, said the experiences are giving students exposure they would not get otherwise. Smith said there are promising opportunities in manufacturing even for students who do not intend to pursue a four-year degree.

“We can watch videos all day, but to see it hands on and then they actually tell us about the different positions they can learn,” Smith said.

Custom Golf Car Supply quality manager Tony Tousignant lead the tours on Wednesday. He said tours have been given to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the past and the company has hired many people who attended the college, including two current employees. During the tour, Tousignant told the students the company is looking for employees.

Tousignant talked the tour group through the basics of each process, from machines that form plastics into shapes with thicknesses down to a few sheets of paper to others that drill and bend pipe into shape.

General manager David Rosier said he enjoys giving tours. He has been working in plastics manufacturing when he was 18 and finds manufacturing processes fascinating. He did other things and earned a college degree, but it all started when he worked as an operated one summer.

“And you’re not pigeonholed,” Rosier said. “You learn so much.”

Gabrielle Miller, a Salisbury High School junior who attended the afternoon tour of the facility, said the tour opened her eyes to different jobs.

Miller is interested in welding and she is taking a metals and manufacturing class right now. She said she had never seen equipment on the scale of what she saw in the factory on Wednesday.

“It’s a different experience,” Miller said. “I’ve never been in a plant like this.”

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