Over three dozen students enrolled in an Ohio Hi-Point Career Center satellite manufacturing program at Triad High School celebrated Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2 by touring one of the oldest operating manufacturing companies in Champaign County – Honeywell Aerospace (formerly Grimes Manufacturing/Grimes Aerospace).
“Honeywell is one of the largest employers in the county, and we felt it was important to broaden community understanding of the products we manufacture here and the services we provide,” said Tom Duggan, senior director and site leader of the Honeywell Aerospace in Champaign County. “There isn’t a better way to do that than to bring community members onsite on national Manufacturing Day to see for themselves.”
Founded in Urbana in 1933 by entrepreneur and inventor Warren G. Grimes, who later became known as “The Father of the Aircraft Lighting Industry,” Grimes Manufacturing made a name for itself as a leader in the aerospace lighting industry. In 1997, the company was acquired by AlliedSignal Inc., which later became Honeywell International Inc. after merging with Honeywell Inc. in 1999.
“Honeywell Urbana has two plants focused on the production and repair of interior and exterior lighting for commercial and military aircraft,” Duggan said. “We also manufacturing airplane wipers and some internal displays. Primarily, our products end up on Boeing aircraft, but we have other Aerospace customers as well.
“Our Russell Street facility is focused on parts fabrication such as machining, polishing and non-destructive testing. They supply materials to the Route 55 facilities and other Honeywell facilities around the globe,” he added.
Field trip details
The 40 students interested in a career in the manufacturing sector who took part in the Manufacturing Day event, were given a unique look into the daily operations of Honeywell Aerospace during guided tours of the company’s two Urbana facilities – 550 state Route 55 and 515 N. Russell St.
Duggan said students saw 80 percent of the company’s operations on the factory floor, but students had to view some operations through windows because those particular areas required specific personal protective equipment and training.
Duggan said the company hopes the tours helped “provide insight and possibly inspiration around careers in manufacturing and Aerospace.
“Some of the students may one day be operators, technicians, engineers and leaders at Honeywell Urbana,” he added.
Rachel Lewis, Champaign Economic Partnership administrative assistant, said local economic development officials and manufacturers have taken part in national Manufacturing Day in one way or another for the past four years. Last year, students from Urbana High School and Ohio Hi-Point toured the Bundy Baking Solutions’ Shaffer Production Facility located at 720 S. Edgewood Ave. in Urbana.
Lewis said the aim of the Manufacturing Day student tours is to give students interested in a career in manufacturing an inside look into local companies while increasing community exposure for local employers.
“Manufacturing Day is vitally important as it allows the community to show the future generation of workers that manufacturing is making a comeback, that manufacturing can support a strong community network, and that it can provide stable employment,” she said. “Manufacturing Day also gives an opportunity to focus on our current local employers and the wonderful employees right here in Champaign County who help to create American-made products for a variety of industries.”
Triad High School principal Kyle Huffman said the 40 students who participated in the Manufacturing Day tours of the Honeywell Aerospace facilities were high schoolers currently enrolled in the advanced manufacturing program, a satellite program offered to students through a joint effort between Triad and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.
The advanced manufacturing program, which includes a feeder program at Triad Middle School, replaced the district’s industrial arts program decommissioned following the 2014-2015 school year, Huffman said.
“Our goal is to take our manufacturing students on tours of the various businesses in the county so that they are aware of the employment opportunities that may be available to them because of our program,” he added. “We decided to have our first tour on Oct. 2 to celebrate Manufacturing Day, and Honeywell graciously offered to allow us to tour their facilities.”
As for the importance of such tours, Huffman said, “The goal is for these students to realize the employment opportunities that are available in Champaign County and make real life connections to what they are learning in the classroom.”
Huffman added he hopes tours like this help the younger generation realize the local manufacturing sector consists of more than just a certain car manufacturer located in Marysville.
“When we think about manufacturing jobs, most people think of Honda and don’t realize that there are other local manufacturing companies looking for skilled and dedicated workers,” he said. “Champaign County is a great community, and for those students who want to make it their home as adults, we want to help them find employment opportunities.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.