It was announced earlier this week that two Nebraska-based companies, Distefano Technology and Manufacturing of Omaha and MetalQuest Unlimited of Hebron, were the recipients of state grants to support programs aimed at teaching area students about careers in the world of advanced manufacturing and technology.
Gov. Pete Ricketts made the announcement Monday, stating that the grants, under the name “Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative,” would be good for up to $125,000 each and would go towards supporting outreach and education initiatives for students in the state of Nebraska.
Gov. Ricketts cited the importance of continuing to develop partnerships between public institutions like Omaha Public Schools and private ones like Distefano and MetalQuest, particularly with regard to education and training of students of middle and high school age.
The aim of programs like this is two-fold. On the one hand, it helps students learn about all the various emerging careers in the field of advanced manufacturing. It helps many students start down the path to a rewarding career that they may not have otherwise known about. At the same time, it prepares our state’s economy to thrive in an area of new manufacturing technologies, and ultimately to compete on the world’s stage.
Both companies are already involved in programs aimed at getting students excited about all the various new technologies and processes involved in advanced manufacturing. Distefano, in partnership with the OPS Career Center and other manufacturers, is planning a mobile manufacturing expo which will travel to different area middle schools and teach students about 3D printing, robotics, welding, and more.
MetalQuest is sponsoring a similar program with the South Central Unified School District that vice president Scott Volk says is aimed at turning around some of the negative misconceptions that still persist about careers in manufacturing. He rightly points out that manufacturing is not all dirty manual labor, as some might imagine: “They’re going to use their head as much as their hands,” he said.
For manufacturing companies hoping to attract eager, talented young employees and for technologically-minded and mechanically-inclined students hoping to discover a challenging and rewarding career, this announcement is a big win. One thing is certain: public-private partnerships like this make for an exciting future for manufacturing in Nebraska.