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Area Students See Education in Action during Manufacturing Day
Written by Kelly Kalb, Correspondent

Upper Perkiomen High School students test out hand bells revolutionized by employees of Bracalente Manufacturing Group during a walking tour of the facility.

                Bracalente Manufacturing Group of Trumbauersville once again opened its doors to area youth Friday, giving high school engineering students a first-hand look at how their interests can translate into a career in manufacturing.

                The tour was held in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day, "a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers," according to its website. This is the third consecutive year Bracalente has welcomed students to its precision machining and metal-finishing facility.

                About 160 9th-12th grade students from Upper Perkiomen High School, Western Montgomery Technical School, Quakertown High School and Northern Montco Technical Center participated in the day. Students learned about the origins of manufacturing, as well as the history and operations of Bracalente before breaking up into small groups for a walking tour of the facility.

                CEO Ron Bracalente spoke to the group about the need for technical students to visit the facility to gain a better understanding of its vision, as well as future employment opportunities. "In about five to 10 years, 20 percent of our workers will be retired," Bracalente said, highlighting the need for students to learn about the industry.

                He also spoke about the changes in manufacturing and the new skill sets needed to move the industry forward – skills today's high school students are learning through engineering programs. "Technology means a better quality product," he said. "What previously were high labor jobs with physical problems years ago are, today, more sophisticated. There is young and old talent working together to revolutionize an old product and make it cheaper."

                State Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), who also attended the event, echoed Bracalente's comments. "The world of manufacturing has evolved," he said, adding, "Bracalente is very typical of how manufacturing businesses work. These are very good jobs in a great atmosphere. Take this tour very seriously because not everything has to evolve into a four-year degree."

                Bracalente's facility employs 135 individuals and works with various materials, including metal and plastics, to create products for multiple industries, including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, recreational, electronics, industrial, medical, oil and gas and green energy. Whether the parts are used in flash lights, tape measures or rulers, farm equipment, motorcycles or hand bells, the use of technology, such as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, is integral to creating a reliable product.

                Some of the machines at the facility were familiar to students. Upper Perk junior Giana Berrios, who made her second trip to Bracalente this year, said, "In school, in Team Engineering and Design, we use CNC routers and 3-D printers [to] work on challenging projects."

                Allowing students to see their education in action is key to building the workforce of the future. "Our goal as an engineering and design department is to provide students with an active hands-on learning environment that promotes a higher level of thinking through real-life problem-solving situations," Upper Perkiomen High School Technology Education teacher Dan Moyer said. "Today, students were able to see that entire process under one roof in a 'real-world' application, and at the end of the day we want our kids to make informed decisions about their future."

                Students who visited the facility came away with an understanding of how each department operates, as well as the dedication and hard work of employees.

                "Today was a great experience since our Team Design and Manufacturing class has become more advanced, [and] seeing that a local business has so many job opportunities is great," Upper Perk junior Alex Stills said about the day. "It was cool seeing the companies they work with, including Harley Davidson."

                Upper Perk senior Matthew McGrogan added, "I thought the day's event was very interesting in seeing all the different processes that go into making one everyday item. This was also extremely eye opening to all the good opportunities in manufacturing after high school and all the jobs available."

                For more information on Bracalente Manufacturing Group and National Manufacturing Day, visit 





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