The Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation teamed up with the University of Nebraska College of Engineering to get first-year students inside G.I. area companies, and to show them what could be ahead after graduation.
"We do this because our students are taking a lot of those building block courses in that first year - math, physics, and chemistry, and there's not a lot of exposure to what engineering actually is," says David Williams, Director of Retention for the College of Engineering. "We feel this would be a great motivator for them to see here's some of the careers you can do, but also show here's some great careers within the state of Nebraska as well."
Over 500 students toured more than a dozen manufacturing and city facilities to see those careers.
"What mattered most to us what that we were able to include all of the different majors within the companies that we go to, so mechanical, civil, electrical, all of our students will have the chance to really see kind of what those different majors do," says Williams.
Diamond Plastics Corporation, a PVC pipe maker that got its start in Nebraska, was one company that opened their plant to show students how core classroom work becomes a job.
"People are concerned about what they would do in the future," says Ron Bishop, Director of Engineering and Technical Services at Diamond. "They want to do something that they enjoy, but they don't know really what that is, how do you match up their interests with that, so it's very interesting to have a conversation with them."
Mechanical engineering freshman Tre Hanzy says those conversations have given him more confidence in his major.
"It makes it feel like yes, I did choose a good field to go into, not just because it's something I like, but also because it's got some good job opportunities," says Hanzy.
The college says Engineering Day is also about networking opportunities, and they'll be working with Intern Nebraska to help students stay connected to the companies they've visited.
"That's the big pitch of this whole program - bringing people into Grand Island so that the talent and people that live in this area and grow up here can stay and enjoy the kind of life they've already had living and growing up in Nebraska," says Bishop.