Sierra College Focuses on Makers For National Manufacturing Day

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As part of National Manufacturing Day, Sierra College CACT, SME Sacramento Valley and Hacker Lab focused on makers, manufacturers and Advanced Manufacturing in the Sacramento region during the month of October.

By learning innovative approaches to solve problems and develop new solutions, students are developing the maker skills sought by manufacturers.

Across the United States, manufacturers hosted events on October 2 for National Manufacturing Day ( and in Sacramento, Sierra College collaborated with SME Sacramento Valley and Hacker Lab to promote activities throughout the month, according to Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Director, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT), Sierra College (

“This year for National Manufacturing Day, we really focused on makers as future manufacturers,” said Pepper-Kittredge. “Whether a corporation creates an internal innovation lab or a student starts tinkering with an idea in college or high school, these are the first steps in creating new products that will eventually be produced by manufacturers.”

Throughout October, SME arranged industry tours, supported student events and partnered with other professional organizations, according to Mike Bell, president, SME Sacramento Valley. “Our goal was to increase awareness of manufacturing in Sacramento,” said Bell. “These events introduced students to manufacturing careers and showcased local manufacturers that are developing new technologies and shipping products all over the world.”

“SME also participated in the City of Rocklin Mini Maker Faire with Sierra College CACT and Hacker Lab to show kids how their imagination can turn an idea into a product,” said Bell. “At the CACT booth, children shaped their own creations with conductive playdough and lit them up with LED lights and a battery pack.” Approximately 7000 attended the Rocklin Mini Maker Faire hosted by Sierra College on Oct. 3, according to Pepper-Kittredge.

Another event to turn makers into manufacturers was launched at Hacker Lab in Rocklin on October 1. Hacker Lab, with support from Sierra College CACT, kicked off a six week Start-up Hustle Accelerator with 15 entrepreneurial teams, explained Eric Ullrich, Co-Founder, Hacker Lab.

Guest instructor, George Claire, Lego Builder at The Shop @ VSP Global, introduced the start-up group to Design Thinking, a method used by manufacturers to develop new products. The SHOP is an innovation lab that focuses on developing technologies for the physical and digital aspects of eyewear and eye care. “George Claire guided participants through a series of exercises to instill the concepts of customer empathy, ‘fail early and fail fast’ and getting prototypes quickly in the hands of prospective customers,” said Ullrich. Hacker Lab is a maker and co-working space with entrepreneurial resources located in Sacramento and Rocklin.

SME Sacramento Valley also worked with Capital Region Academies for the Next Economy (CRANE) Consortium to connect Career Technical Education (CTE) faculty to local manufacturers for National Manufacturers Day.

Steve Dicus, Coordinator, Advanced Manufacturing, Construction & Engineering Pathways, CRANE arranged a tour at Harris & Bruno International for Lincoln High School students, explained Leandra Wilson, Director of Strategic Operations & HR, Harris Bruno International. “Managers led small groups of students and spread them throughout our facility so they could hear and see what was happening at each station,” said Wilson. “It was very interactive. Students pushed buttons and turned knobs to change the feed rate, for instance, of a part being made on a CNC machine. The tour aligned with their coursework so students were very engaged and asked great questions.”

Jonathan Schwartz, math, engineering and wood shop teacher at Colfax High School took his engineering students on tours of FMC Technologies Schilling Robotics and the Biological and Engineering Lab at UC Davis on Oct. 2. “Meeting Colfax High School graduates who now work as engineers at FMC Technologies was most impactful,” said Schwartz.

“Students also saw how graduates from their alma mater routinely use math, woodworking and engineering skills to make prototypes to test out new product ideas. In the manufacturing industry, employees need to make models quickly and inexpensively to help demonstrate the viability of the idea to solve a problem,” said Schwartz.

Meagan Douglas, Communications Manager, FMC Technologies Schilling Robotics, helped organize the Manufacturing Day tours. “We happily support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs as well as student career planning and mentoring,” said Douglas.

Pepper-Kittredge accompanied the Colfax High School group on their tours. The maker skills that students develop in Career Technical Education classes are relevant to their future work, explained Pepper-Kittredge. “Students apply academics while working on hands-on class projects,” said Pepper-Kittredge. “By learning innovative approaches to solve problems and develop new solutions, students are developing the maker skills sought by manufacturers.”

About Sierra College CACT
Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) is focused on Advanced Manufacturing and is funded through the Workforce and Economic Development program of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. Since 1992, the Sierra College CACT has provided customized training in lean, process improvement, zero waste, supervision, workplace software, communication and many other topics for organizations, manufacturers and technology companies throughout Northern California. For more information, contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at training(at)sierracollege(dot)edu or 916-660-7801.

About Sierra College
Sierra College serves 3200 square miles of Northern CA with campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Grass Valley, and Truckee. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California (Sacramento north) for transfers to four year Universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills. Sierra graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the region. More information at

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