CCPS staff get first hand look at industrial park ongoings

Published 10:00 am Friday, March 17, 2023

Counselors, social workers, and other school staff continually seek ways to aid students.

Through a unique collaboration with Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority, such an opportunity presented itself Wednesday afternoon.

Approximately 20 staff members from Clark County Public Schools were present to tour different industrial facilities to learn more and inform students about potential career options.

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“We have partnered with the superintendent, Dustin Howard, in an effort to open the lines of communication between the school system, the high school, and the technology center with our industries…to let them know what type of students we need,” said Erika O’Brien, the assistant director at Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority. “We want the students to know what all is offered in the industrial park.”

Traveling by bus, staff from schools including George Rogers Clark High School, Phoenix Academy, Conkwright Elementary School, and more started their day with lunch at DSM Nutritional Products on Rolling Hills Lane.

DSM Nutritional Products, a science-based company specializing in health and nutrition, offers various positions at its Winchester site.

In manufacturing, potential jobs include being a maintenance technician, electrical and instrumentation tech, logistics & material coordinator, and more.

Regarding innovation and research and development, opportunities include being a fermentation specialist, downstream specialist and purification specialist.

Project management positions include fermentation engineer, downstream processing engineer, purification engineer, senior manager, and director.

John Rutten, senior director of Asset Technology Americas at DSM Nutritional Products, explained the general operations during a presentation and tour of the facility.

“We’re very tech-driven as far as improved technology, going into the plants, making them more efficient, bringing in the latest and greatest technology, the cutting edge science and really driving costs down,” Rutten said. “This facility is part of manufacturing but we don’t make finished products here.”

Processes developed at the site are primarily for dietary supplements, infant formula ingredients, animal feed, and more.

Parts of the processes include fermentation and purification.

Along with technical skills, others get valued just as much.

“Interpersonal skills are important,” said Jennifer Shields, the human resources director at DSM Nutritional Products. “Being able to read, write, and [perform] mathematics is important, but the soft skills [are] as well.”

Soft skills, as described, include a strong work ethic and punctuality.

While many jobs might require a college degree, this is not so in all cases.

Other businesses located along Rolling Hills Lane include Mansea Metal, a roofing contractor, and Sekisui S-Lec America, a manufacturer of PVB interlayer film that serves the auto industry.

Also visited by staff during the school industry tour was Univance, located off Corporate Drive, and Precision Mechanical Incorporated, located on Tech Drive.

While the former is a specialized manufacturer of drivetrain units, the latter specializes in self-perform industrial projects that include engineering, design, fabrication, and construction.

Whatever field students choose, professionals hope today will inform them of many possibilities.

“We’re really hoping that we can help the counselors educate the students [about] what all is in the industrial park and even outside of the park for future careers right here in Winchester,” O’Brien said.