Robots roamed the atrium, the BT Mark I drone strutted its stuff, while the webcam atop a mini version of Mini Cooper followed visitors wearing bright colors.
The manufacturers of these clever products were south suburban high school students, who demonstrated they are eager to be the workforce of tomorrow.
They spent Friday morning exhibiting their talents to area companies during the first ever SouthWorks Engineering and Robotics Showcase at Prairie State College.
By bringing together the world of education and work, schools can find out what employers want, and students can learn how their classes provide job skills, said Janice Stoettner of the Illinois State Board of Education’s Career Prep Network.
“There is no better way to get kids invested in education,” she said, as she looked around the atrium filled with business leaders interacting with students.
“This is a fertile hunting ground for talent,” Prairie State College President Terri Winfree said.
Mollie Dowling, of OAI Inc., organized the event with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, because she wanted companies to see what children are doing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes, and encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing.
She also hoped businesses would be inspired to sponsor larger projects at these schools, and ultimately a robotics competition in the fall.
“Manufacturers need to play a part in our school systems,” she told the crowd in the college’s atrium.
Industry representatives were impressed with all they saw, and stressed the need to get young people interested in manufacturing jobs.