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Madison teenagers tour Toyota plant

MADISON – Students from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools recently took a front-row seat to view 21st-century manufacturing jobs.

The students toured the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama Inc. plant in north Huntsville as part of National Manufacturing Day. Their visit allowed the teenagers to gain insight into the jobs that they interest them and the skills that they must develop to secure those positions.

“Toyota gave Huntsville Steam Works $90,000 to build a new mobile fabrication lab to tour area schools. The lab will help expose students to digital fabrication design and manufacturing — using technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Computer Numerical Control or CNC machines and design programs,” John S. Peck said. Peck is Public Relations Manager for Madison City Schools.

The Toyota visit could have the effect of a recruitment of sorts if students are enlightened to some type of advanced manufacturing career, Peck said. This experience also can help school instruction specialists plan courses for students drawn to those kinds of skills and jobs.

“Jobs today take tremendous skill, not just physical dexterity but also tremendous skills with knowledge of computers, with advanced manufacturing like we’re looking at today,” MCS Superintendent Robby Parker said. The Toyota visit and the soon-to-activate mobile lab play a big role in exposing students to what Mr. Parker calls “new-collar” jobs for students not necessarily on a college path.

The Madison teenagers engaged in miniature robotics competitions before taking a guided tour through Toyota’s sprawling assembly plant. A panel of Toyota workers representing engineering, production, maintenance, quality control and other sectors took questions and offered career path advice to students.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama Inc., commonly called TMMAL, is a car and truck engine factory near Huntsville. Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan owns and operates the facility. Construction of the factory was completed in 2003.

The Toyota plant’s address is 1 Cottonvalley Drive NW in Huntsville. For information, call 256-746-5000 or visit toyota.com.

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