Upcoming event aims to expose young people to careers in technology and manufacturing

Macomb County has long been a manufacturing powerhouse. For close to a century, our region has designed and produced countless products, parts and materials for the auto industry and military – which makes continuing the steady flow of talent into our workforce a top issue for local leaders.

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One major component of producing this next generation workforce involves exposing young people to the variety of careers and opportunities available in the manufacturing and technology sectors. And the upcoming Careers in Manufacturing Expo aims to do just that. The free career event will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Macomb Community College South Campus. It will feature a light dinner, an opportunity to interact with area employers and a panel discussion about educational pathways that lead to career success. The panel will include insight from interns all the way to CEOs, all of whom can provide perspective to the public.

“It’s really all about developing career awareness and technology awareness, particularly within the automotive field,” said Joe Petrosky, the dean of the Engineering and Advanced Technology at Macomb Community College. “That evening event has local employers that come in. Students and parents and families can interact with those employers, […] learn more about apprenticeships, learn more about internships (and) the programs available at the college.”

Companies participating in the event include:

  • Ford Motor Company
  • Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles
  • General Motors
  • Magna International (manufacturing)
  • Continental AG (manufacturing)
  • Comau (automation)
  • Siemens (automation)
  • American Axle (auto)
  • Kuka (automation)

All interested parents and students are welcome to attend the expo, where one lucky student attendee will be awarded the special door prize – a professional grade drone!

Again, the event is free, but registration is required here.


Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

FIRST Robotics: A student’s perspective

It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will have job titles that do not currently exist. Many of these new roles will be related to STEM, so it is imperative that young people have opportunities to explore and become educated in these fields.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics is a program that does just that. Its mission is to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs and competitions. According to FIRST, this is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.

Knowing this, Macomb County has begun collaborating with the 16 teams based here. One of our first efforts – a FIRST Robotics open house and panel discussion hosted by students from the International Academy of Macomb and the I.AM.ROBOT First Robotics team on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 from 3:45 p.m. – 6 p.m. For more information on the event or to secure your spot, click here.

To get a better understanding as to why this event is important, we invite you to read the following essay written by Magdalena Sawicki, a student from the International Academy of Macomb and a member of the school’s I.AM.Robot FIRST Robotics team.

Before last year, I never had a true passion. I had many hobbies, but nothing that truly made me stop and think, “This is my thing.” Additionally, I always had this mentality that I never truly fit or felt comfortable anywhere, which understandably put a damper on my feelings towards groups and teams. However, that same thinking is what justified the importance of the moment I knew I discovered my passion.

IMG_4805It all began my freshman year when I went to a new high school. The rigor of the International Baccalaureate program was the smallest of my worries compared to the challenges of making new friends and having to reintroduce myself. To be frank, I did not know how I was supposed to paint myself as a unique individual, when I had nothing that set me apart.  The transition was hard and the routine of it all started to make me feel nauseous. Then, like fate had it, an announcement of a robotics meeting played over the speaker. From that moment on, I was under a spell. My weekly meetings turned into daily meetings, sometimes staying at school from 3 p.m. to midnight. It was the first time that I was so wrapped up in doing something that there was no other place I would’ve rather been.

Two years into being on my team, I developed a leadership position and I spontaneously pushed my team into signing up for the All Girls Competition in Bloomfield. It was the first off-season event the team would’ve ever participated in, but I was beyond ready for the challenge. The moment I received the green light, I pushed everything aside besides the competition. Along with preparing myself, I had to prepare the five other girls on the team, expanding my knowledge from just programming to building and electrical. We practiced three times a week and I was confident in our abilities, however, I was still very intimidated by the other teams. So much so, I spent the morning of the competition in the bathroom consoling myself. In the competition queue, fear really hit me. I was trembling and jittery. Luckily, I had a bond with my drive team girls and they put on my favorite music knowing goofy dancing calms me down. Without even realizing it, I was standing at the driver station setting up. My driver saw me tense up again and reminded me of the work I put in to make this possible. We stood in preparation for the match and it was then, when the buzzer went off, that I knew this is my passion. All my nerves disappeared and I went into full focus, winning that match.

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From that moment, every time I’m faced with a tough situation, I swear I hear that starting buzzer. Robotics helped me find my identity, passion and skills like team-work, time-management and most importantly, leadership. The Girls competition became my outlet for later being operator on the actual drive-team, taking my team to worlds, advocating for women in STEM and being the student mentor for my final year of robotics, for not five girls but twenty.

Magdalena Sawicki is a senior from the International Academy of Macomb and has been a member of 4810 I.AM.Robot for four years. She is on the programming, business, outreach and drive teams. Magdalena also holds an extreme passion advocating for women in STEM. Recently, she participated in the Bloomfield All Girls competition as a drive coach and won a $1,000 scholarship through the above essay (5/55 girls).

Popular workshop returns to help startup businesses

Small businesses and startup organizations are an essential part of Michigan’s economy. They keep our cities and towns vibrant by investing in communities and giving work to a significant number of people – over 1.8 million individuals to be exact. That’s more than 49 percent of the state’s private workforce and a reason why there are countless resources available to provide support for the sector.

One resource in particular is back by popular demand. “Starting Up,” a free workshop hosted by the Macomb-OU Incubator at the Velocity Center, is returning for a new session on Tuesday, December 18 from 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. The course is open to the public, including:

  • Individuals who have a high-tech startup
  • Individuals who have an early-stage, growth-based business
  • Individuals who have an innovative idea that they’d like to bring to market

During the workshop, attendees will explore Michigan’s “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” which is designed to help innovators start and/or grow tech-based businesses. They will also hear from John Eaton, the Macomb-OU Incubator client strategist. He will review the wide range of resources the state of Michigan offers – including business incubators, university technology acceleration and commercialization, SmartZones and various support services and funding programs. The end goal of the course – to identify what’s right for every individual’s business.

Those interested in attending can register here: https://hgioxpcxda.formstack.com/forms/starting_up_121818. Make sure to reserve a spot soon. These classes tend to fill up quickly.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

‘Tis the season for Shop Local Macomb! Here’s how your business can get involved.

pexels-photo-929245Like the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! And if you own a small business, you likely agree. The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity for attracting new customers and boosting sales margins. Which is why the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) is partnering with First State Bank and the Sterling Heights Regional and Macomb County chambers to bring back the Shop Local Macomb campaign. We want to help our more than 1,600 independently owned and operated retailers by encouraging local holiday shopping.

“Shopping local is one of the easiest things we can do to support our independently owned businesses,” said John Paul Rea, director of MCPED. “These retailers help us build vibrant cities and towns by attracting visitors and new residents. Which means that spending money at these businesses during the holiday season has an impact far beyond sales figures.”

Shop Local Macomb and its corresponding social media competition will officially launch on November 23. Like last year, this contest will ask individuals to upload photos of their local holiday shopping with the #ShopLocalMacomb hashtag for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards (donated by First State Bank).

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In the interim, campaign organizers are asking independently owned and operated retail businesses in Macomb County to submit their Shop Local Saturday (November 24) deals and other holiday discounts to a digital portal here: http://bit.ly/ShopLocalMacomb. There is no charge to submit and all information collected will be promoted on MakeMacombYourHome.com and a variety of other mediums, like our interactive holiday shopping map.

Anecdotally, businesses that participated in this manner last year saw an increase in foot traffic on that Saturday.

“We heard from many businesses after the Shop Local Saturday event last year, and those that had the extra promotion through our outlets experienced a greater number of shoppers than they had in years prior,” said Melanie Davis, president of the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce. “So submitting your deals and discounts is an easy and free way to spread the word about your business and get new customers.”

Businesses interested in sharing their holiday deals through the free online portal are asked to do so by Friday, November 16. And those that would like to help us promote the Shop Local Macomb campaign can download a flyer here and use the #ShopLocalMacomb campaign hashtag on social media. All told, this extra support can help us make this holiday shopping season in Macomb County the best one yet.

For more information on the Shop Local Macomb campaign, visit http://www.makemacombyourhome.com/shoplocal.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.