UNION — Some Sims Middle School students got a look at possible career paths and the educational resources that could help them successfully travel those paths during a tour of the Union County Advanced Technology Center on Friday.
Approximately 45 students of Randall “Chump” Hanvey’s Business and Careers class took part in a tour of the center which included presentations on the welding, mechatronics, computer technology, and health care courses offered at the center and/or at Spartanburg Community College (SCC). In addition to visiting the classrooms, the students also met with representatives of the technology center, SCC, USC Union, Wallace Thomson Hospital, Team Aruba, Gestamp, and BMW.
Kathy Jo Lancaster, technology center site coordinator, said the event, which she said was the first of its kind hosted by the center, was designed to introduce students to the educational services offered there and/or at SCC, the career opportunities offered by the participating companies, and show them how those services are linked to those opportunities.
“We were asked by Randall Hanvey if he could bring his eighth-grade career exploration class over for a tour,” Lancaster said. “What we wanted to do was present possible career paths in the Union area that are tied to our business and industrial sector. So we invited Gestamp and BMW, the hospital system, the Urban League of the Upstate, and Team Aruba. The reason why we did this is because the programs and services we provide at the technology center have a direct connection to these industries and businesses that are present.”
Hanvey said he wanted his students to be fully informed about what they will be facing as they begin to decide what career paths they will follow in life.
“I want them to be exposed at this age to the many things they will face in their futures,” Hanvey said. “Next year they will have to start choosing their career paths, more or less. The more they are exposed to now, the better informed they are about the different career paths, the better the choices they’ll make.”
BMW Scholars Program
One possible career choice the students were presented with was in manufacturing by Ryan Childers, program coordinator for BMW’s Scholars Program.
“We’re wanting to get the word out, to the middle school students about careers in manufacturing,” Childers said. “Manufacturing today is a very high-tech environment with a wide range of needed skills in electrical and mechanical engineering, robotics, automation, and problem-solving.
“Currently, we’ve got over 7,000 employees on-site at BMW manufacturing,” he said. “When you think about it, there’s a lot of career opportunities around the manufacturing portion of our plant. South Carolina, especially the Upstate, is a manufacturing hub and that career path would give them a lot of opportunity for the future.”
According to its company website, BMW Manufacturing, which is located off I-85 in Spartanburg County, is BMW’s first full manufacturing facility outside Germany and the company’s first American production facility. It employs a workforce of more than 7,000 people in the production the “X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. The 1,150-acre, 4-million-square-foot campus generates its own power on site, offers fully equipped medical facilities including an on-site pharmacy and provides 24-hour security and firefighting personnel. To date, BMW has invested over $5 billion in its South Carolina operations.”
The BMW Scholars Program is a two-year apprenticeship for full-time students from SCC, Greenville Technical College, and Tri-County Technical College. Literature handed out by Childers and another BMW representative about the scholars program states that it provides “part-time work and tuition assistance for student in manufacturing areas of study such as Mechatronics, Maintenance Technology, Automotive, Machine Took, Robotics, and Production.”
Requirements for participation include:
• Full time student status and commitment to attend school year round.
• Students must be in their first or second semester of study and enrolled in a local participating technical college in a manufacturing related degree.
• Minimum 2.8 GPA.
• Successful completion of BMW assessment testing.
• Commitment to working up to 20 hours per week at BMW during the course of the program.
• Participation in BMW training.
• No obligation for continued employment by BMW or the student upon receipt of a degree.
Lancaster said that while the technology center offers some entry-level courses in mechatronics that would help students qualify for acceptance into the BMW Scholars Program, the students would have to apply for its through SCC.
For more information about the BMW Scholars Program, contact the Union County Advanced Technology Center at 466-1060.
Also taking part in Friday’s event was Susan Becksted, human resource manager for Gestamp, who also pointed out career opportunities in manufacturing and discussed an apprenticeship program the company is developing.
“Currently, we are beginning to start up an apprenticeship program in maintenance,” Becksted said. “Also, it is important that the kids at their age understand the career opportunities in manufacturing.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.