Last week, Saint Paul College in St. Paul, Minnesota, which boasts a student body that is 65% people of color, became the 19th stop of 20 for the Creators Wanted Tour, a joint project of the NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education affiliate of the NAM.
Over three days, with Union Pacific as the lead sponsor, the stop drew more than 600 visitors, from students to educators. Meanwhile, 42,000 online signups in Minnesota helped the campaign surpass 1.5 million nationwide from students and career mentors interested in modern manufacturing careers.
Twin Cities kickoff: Union Pacific Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales Kenny Rocker gave the keynote address at the kickoff event, emphasizing the reward of manufacturing careers. He was joined by MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee, Saint Paul College President Dr. Dee Dee Peaslee, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Loon and Trane Technologies Vice President of Product Management Dave Molin.
- “When I talk about opportunities, I’m talking about really good-paying jobs … At Union Pacific, we’re talking jobs that are … averaging over $100,000 a year, and that’s without benefits, and so you just really have an opportunity to make an impact from that perspective,” said Rocker.
- “At Trane Technologies, our vision is to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world,” added Molin. “It is the engine of our company, and we live it every day. And to do that, we need bright minds and the best minds in the world. We need diverse thinkers, we need creators, and our doors are open to everyone.”
- Notably, leaders from key government business and workforce partner organizations attended the kickoff, including the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Parent Union and St. Paul Area Chamber, representatives from the offices of U.S. Reps. Brad Finstad (R-MN-1), Angie Craig (D-MN-2), Dean Phillips (D-MN-3), Betty McCollum (D-MN-4) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN-7), Mayor of South St. Paul Jimmy Francis and State Reps. Jon Koznick (R), Emma Greenman (D) and Samantha Sencer-Mura (D).
Experience and exploration: Students delved deep into immersive activities, from solving manufacturing-related puzzles in the Creators Wanted mobile experience to virtually navigating a locomotive through Union Pacific’s simulators. Equally captivating was the sight of the actual railroad track, which was complemented by insightful career anecdotes from Union Pacific professionals.
- Eighty-seven percent of students surveyed reported a significantly improved view of modern manufacturing careers after completing the immersive experience.
Live Q&A sessions: The stop also offered structured opportunities for students to learn about manufacturing organizations’ support for the next generation of talent, along with the importance of mentorship and personal development in shaping successful careers.
- The first session, featuring two Union Pacific senior managers—Amy Bang, Sr. manager of diversity and inclusion, and Ken Kuwamura, Jr., manager of talent acquisition—and Saint Paul College instructors, zeroed in on the crucial roles of mentorship, diversity and passion in career selection.
- The second session, with Jake Yernberg, automotive instructor, Saint Paul College; Caitlin Bundy, manager of corporate sustainability, Union Pacific; and Preeti Subramanian, senior product manager, Trane Technologies, accentuated the pivotal role of manufacturing in tackling global challenges. Panelists pointed out the advantages of the manufacturing sector, citing competitive pay and the sector’s potential in addressing global issues, such as sustainability and climate change.
Interactive Learning: Everfi®, Ecolab and Schwan’s joined Union Pacific in bringing in representatives to give students career advice—and offer activities to spark their curiosity.
- Everfi® showcased a new digital education program, “Future Creators,” co-developed with the MI and Union Pacific, to give middle and high school students a peek into STEM careers.
- Saint Paul College also took students on a tour of its robust Trades and Technical Education program.
Beyond the Tour: The Twin Cities event is a part of Union Pacific’s overarching “Careers on Track” initiative, which aims to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industrial careers, and the Creators Wanted campaign’s sustained drive to enhance perceptions of manufacturing careers in the United States and empower more people to create the future.
The last word: “I want all of you out here, the students, to have an opportunity to go out there and win and compete and further your careers and do well in life,” said Rocker, echoing a theme the Creators Wanted Tour has promoted since its inception: manufacturers and manufacturing care about students and their future.
Next up: The pioneering Creators Wanted Tour concludes next month, Oct. 17–21, at the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio.