Girls from South and West Albany high schools joined girls from schools around the region at the annual LBCC Women, Metals and Manufacturing event, sponsored by the Albany Chamber Pipeline to Jobs project.
More than 65 students participated in the hands-on event that had a waiting list of students who were interested in learning about skills in high-demand program areas.
Students each attended two program areas: Computer-Assisted Design and Drafting (CADD), Welding and Fabrication, Machine Tool Technology, and Mechatronics.
Each session included a chance to try the equipment, and learn about program requirements and median salaries. Students who are currently in the LBCC programs were on hand to guide the girls through the activities.
South Albany High School brought 20 girls, and West Albany High School brought 12. Students signed up voluntarily, and the group included freshmen through seniors.
For some, the event was a chance to learn about options after high school. For others, it was a chance to confirm career aspirations. The group from West included a student who hoped to be chef and one who planned to be a welder.
During lunch, a panel of women with successful careers in manufacturing shared their stories, including how they started and how quickly they advanced in their fields. For many, career experiences grew out of entry-level work and evolved to positions of leadership — often as the only female in their company or department.
Kayla MacFarlane-Herold, who works for Viper Northwest, said this is a great time to pursue work in manufacturing because the demand is high, and employers will provide benefits such as tuition reimbursement. “For the first time, I believed I could have a career, not just a job,” she said.