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.


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.


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).

FIRST Robotics open house to showcase student innovation and imagination

Sprinkled across Macomb County are impressive groups of high school students who are working hard to become STEM leaders and innovators as part of FIRST Robotics. FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” was founded nearly 30 years ago as a mentor-based program and competition. Its mission is to build science, engineering, technology and life skills in young people – work that can help prepare students for the future economy. What does that mean exactly? Well, it is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will have job titles that do not currently exist. And many of those roles will be related to STEM. So it is imperative that young people have opportunities to explore and become educated in these fields. FIRST Robotics is a great platform for that and it’s why nearly 84,000 Michigan high school students participate on local teams.

Here in Macomb County, there are hundreds of FIRST Robotics students and our team count stands at 16. Earlier this year, five of these 16 teams showcased their talents at the FIRST Robotics World Championship. They included:

  • ThunderChickens: Founded 20 years ago, the ThunderChickens are based out of Sterling Heights and the Utica Community Schools. The team, which has more than 100 students, has been to the FIRST Robotics World Championship 17 times, winning the event twice. In 2018, the ThunderChickens were a runner-up.
  • Blue Devils: Based in Richmond, the Blue Devils have 25 student participants. At the close of the 2018 competition, the Blue Devils were announced as a runner-up.
  • Byting Bulldogs: The Byting Bulldogs are based out of Romeo. The team has 55 student members.
  • The Fighting Pi: Formed in 2006 at the Macomb Academy of Arts and Sciences in Armada, Mich., Fighting Pi is made up of more than 40 students.
  • I. AM.ROBOT 4810 (pictured below): The I.AM.ROBOT team has 58 members. It was founded seven years ago at the International Academy of Macomb.


Area businesses will have the opportunity to connect with these movers and shakers of tomorrow at 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- 6 p.m. The event will feature representatives from the majority of Macomb County’s 16 teams as well as guest speakers that include Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Michigan Intermediate School District Superintendent Michael DeVault and First Robotics in Michigan President Gail Alpert. Interested individuals are welcome to attend and meet students, experience their innovations and hear from mentors and coaches on why FIRST Robotics is an integral part of fueling our talent pipeline.

For more information on the event or to secure your spot, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/macomb-county-first-robotics-open-house-and-panel-discussion-tickets-51719054083.

Businesses need severe weather plans too, are you prepared?

mcswaThe state of Michigan has designated April 8-14 as Severe Weather Awareness Week. Preparing for severe weather is extremely important. Macomb County businesses should be prepared and educated on what to do in case of a thunderstorm, tornado, power outage, flooding and more.

As a business are you prepared in case of an emergency? What is your business emergency plan if tornados warnings are issued at closing time? Or if severe weather hits and half of your warehouse is flooded?

The Macomb County Office of Emergency Management & Communications urges businesses to be prepared for these events and have plans in place. Some items to consider having in your plan are:

  • What is the communication plan between management and employees
  • What happens if severe weather hits when your employees are in the office or on the road
  • Does your business have emergency supplies, fire extinguishers, flashlights/batteries, first aid kit, drinking water, NOAA weather alert radio/batteries and necessary tools
  • Are tornado shelters clearly label and able to accommodate employees
  • What happens if the production facility is shut down for several days due to a power outage or flooding

There is no better time than now to develop or update a plan. Macomb County Emergency Management & Communications has developed a Community Emergency Preparedness Guide that can help businesses prepare for severe weather and other hazards they may encounter.

Lauri Cowhy is a senior communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

I want to go back to college and finish my bachelor’s degree . . . as a working adult with family obligations, can I find the time?

PrintYes! Designed for busy adults, Oakland University – Macomb is offering four accelerated bachelor’s degree completion programs at the OU Anton/Frankel Center in Mount Clemens:

  • Bachelor of Science in General Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing

Classes are offered in the evenings in an accelerated, eight-week sessions that combines classroom work with online assignments.  That means a full-time student would only need to attend class two evenings per week and could complete their degree in two years or less.Finish Line 480x320

“As a single mother working full-time, any free time is a bonus,” says Nakisha Scruggs, a recent graduate. “I wanted to be an example to my daughter and show her that if you want something bad enough and apply yourself, you can do anything.”

If you have some college or are interested transferring, OU-Macomb will offer a Fast-Track Open House on Thursday, April 19 from 5:30-7pm. To learn more, visit www.oakland.edu/macomb.

Macomb County has been an integral part of Oakland University’s growth since the institution’s founding 60 years ago. OU is committed to making an impact in Macomb County by enriching lives through expanded access to higher education, nurturing college-bound youth, supporting economic development and engaging with alumni and the local communities.

It’s a wrap; Food and agricultural businesses gather to learn about the benefits of a “Farm to Fork” ecosystem

The Macomb Food Collaborative hosted the All about Food: Farm to Fork Conference here in Macomb County last week.  The conference attracted participants from across southeastern Michigan.

The morning started with a five person panel talking about their experiences in the industry.  They talked about services for business startups, growth, economic development and resources available to people looking to expand a business. The panel consisted of:

  • Jack Johns – project coordinator for Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. Jack pecializes in servicing the food and agricultural industry. He helps attract, retain, and grow businesses in Macomb County
  • Terri Barker – Economic/Community Development Analyst, Agriculture Development Division for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Terri works with businesses to help them expand utilizing state programs and services.
  • Jess Youngblood – Owner of Youngblood Vineyard. Although the vineyard (first-ever in Macomb County) and winery is not open for business just yet, Jess discussed how her longtime dream is coming together. She discussed the struggles and joys of starting their own business. Youngblood Vineyard plans to open to the public next year.
  • Andy More – owner of Cap n’ Corks discussed how he has grown his business from a local beverage supply store and will soon be opening Caps N’ Corks brewing which will produce their own beer and wine.
  • Patricia Moore – Brown Iron Brewhouse discussed how the business has grown so much over the last three years and how they have been able to give back to the community.

The day was filled with a wealth of information during the breakout sessions.  The topics ranged from food safety; starting a business; vegetable gardening; soil health and testing. Several sessions were demonstrations about cooking, healthy eating and local gardening.

macomb food colaborativeSeveral students from L’Anse Creuse’s Pankow Center presented how to make a bubble bucket, best management practices, growing your own herb, harvesting and preserving. Students presented a powerpoint, while showing participants how to build their bucket, and test for nutrient requirements. Students brought their lavender, lettuce and basil plants for participants to see how well anyone can grow herbs in their own home.

Lunch included homemade specialties from Henry Ford Health SystemsDorsey Culinary SchoolWestview Orchards and the Clean Plate.  The products served were amazing and Westview Orchards and the Clean Plate would love to see new customers stop in and visit their family-owned businesses.

Check out more event photos at  facebook.com/MacombFoodCollaborative/ 

The event was hosted by the Macomb Food Collaborative, a non-profit organization that works to ensure access to safe, fresh, fair and healthy food for all. It promotes a vibrant, local food economy, sustainability and good nutrition through education, outreach and support.

For more information on starting or growing your food and agriculture business in Macomb County – contact Jack Johns.  He can connect you to the resources you need.  He specializes in Food and Agriculture, as well as automation, connected vehicles, robotics, energy and retail businesses.

Lauri Cowhy is a senior communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Are you a foodie? Learn, connect and eat at the All About Food Conference on March 20th

basic-loga_origThis year’s event highlights the Macomb County food system and will be held at the Macomb Community Action’s Family Resource Center located at 196 North Rose Street, Mount Clemens, MI.  (Formerly Washington Elementary School.)

Registration begins at 8 a.m. The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with a panel of Macomb County food and beverage business owners. Each will offer insight about their businesses and the role they play in supporting locally sourced for their food and beverage products. The panel will include voices from a vineyard, brewing supply store and a brew house/restaurant.

As any local food conference attendee would hope, a locally sourced and prepared lunch will be provided as part of the cost of attendance. Guests can expect a delicious spread from meal contributors including Henry Ford Health Systems, Dorsey Culinary School, Westview Orchards and the Clean Plate.

The conference attracts participants from across southeastern Michigan region. Breakout sessions offer a range of choices. Gardeners and farmers may take interest in the basic vegetable gardening, soil health and testing, and a garden in a bucket sessions. Schools and other institutions will be represented with farm to school, feeding the whole child, and food safety sessions. Those that take interest in local food from an environmental standpoint may find themselves attending sessions on disappearing farms and farmland and closed loop systems. Other sessions will address a myriad of food related topics including: legislative advocacy, starting businesses, vegetarianism, and local produce in USDA designated food deserts.

For a complete schedule visit this link.

Time is running out to register! Early bird registration is open through March 16th, with a fee of $25. To register online: http://www.macombfood.org/all-about-food-conference.html. A very limited number of walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the conference, with a fee of $35.

The event is hosted by the Macomb Food Collaborative, a non-profit organization

That works to ensure access to safe, fresh, fair and healthy food for all. It promotes a vibrant, local food economy, sustainability and good nutrition through education, outreach and support.