PETALUMA -- A key outcome from the recent Manufacturing Trade Fair Feb. 20 was that a majority of exhibitors had jobs ready to be filled, with more on the way. 

[caption id="attachment_36657" align="alignright" width="300"] Architectural Plastics President Pierre Miremont in the company's showroom next to a medical workstation custom made for Cisco Systems.[/caption]

At the same time, plans are moving ahead to engage more high school students in manufacturing-related projects and competitions, such as the upcoming Z-Prize competition, while also participating in job shadowing experiences designed to stimulate interest, build enthusiasm and actively encourage young people to pursue manufacturing careers.

“Many firms are interested in receiving resumes from people who could be a good fit for their companies, whether they are ready to hire or not,” according to Dick Herman, president and founder of 101MFG (101mfg.com).

“We spoke with 70 representatives from the 40-plus firms exhibiting at our first annual fair who were eager to talk about career prospects at their companies.”

Here are some of the exhibitors that announced current job openings or future possibilities:Architectural Plastics, Inc. -- plans to hire five fabricators over the next six to 12 months.LEMO USA -- has open positions for a customer account specialist, engineering manager, field applications engineer, production and applications engineer, product development engineer and a quality manager.Trivascular (Ovation product) -- is looking for a production supervisor, senior manufacturing and process development engineer, principal regulatory affairs specialist, director of international sales, a global case planning and sizing specialist, territory manager along with a clinical specialist for the Western U.S.SenarioTek – has positions for those with electrical engineering skills, a test technician, technical writer, as well as those with supply chain procurement, production assembly and project management, sales support and office support experience.Enphase Energy -- plans to hire 30 to 40 additional workers in 2013, after hiring 155 employees over the past two years, taking the company to a total of 350 employees.JDSU -- has three open requisitions for production technicians currently, and three more openings for maintenance technicians, as well as manufacturing technicians and management positions. The firm is looking for those with refrigeration and electromechanical experience as well as machinists and welders.J&M Manufacturing -- is looking for a sales representative, an assistant to the operations director, machinists, painters and press brake operators.Raydiance -- is hiring technicians, along with software and mechanical engineers for cutting, drilling and etching production.Clear Focus Imaging – is searching for a part-time customer service and sales support person with social networking savvy.Coval -- anticipates ramping up its hiring activities in 2013 as builds its downline network of distributors.Traditional Medicinals – is hiring mechanics, an automation controller and a supervisor.Moose Boats – may need welders and mechanical engineers in the year ahead to help it catch up with an 18-month backlog of orders for its 33- to 46-foot aluminum boats purchased by federal, state, and municipal organizations.

According to Mr. Herman, getting students to work with their hands by making their own mechanical devices is one way to spark interest in manufacturing jobs.

“This is why 101MFG is working with Glen Mattson, with the National Member Council and the local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), to launch the Z-Prize competition among 11 teams of students from Piner, Casa Grande, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Montgomery and St. Vincent High Schools,” he said.

The competition involves having teams assemble 3-D printers (RapMan 3.2 kits), develop a product concept, then design (using AutoCad 3D software), build and test a mechanical working model of their creation to see if it functions according to specifications.

“We are looking for more corporate sponsors willing to provide the $2,000 to cover the cost of each team’s 3-D printer kit, extra materials and SME memberships. On June 14 a Show Day and open house is planned where these teams will display their products and vie for top honors,” Mr. Herman said.

At the same time, a Job Shadow program is getting under way to take high schools students on three-hour tours of local manufacturing plants accompanied by SME engineers, teachers and guidance counselors.

Some 40 students participated in 2012 by visiting 12 firms. So far 140 students have signed up this year to go to 25 companies.

Students meet with department representatives from HR, finance, marketing, engineering, and production to learn what different employees do. This process has led to requests from employers for summer interns.

"Support for this program is widespread and growing. For the second year, Exchange Bank is helping us financially so we can engage more students. It's gratifying to know that this is often the first step for many young people just starting out -- whether they are college bound, going to work or entering an apprentice program right out of high school. Manufacturing is a rewarding career and the pay is lucrative," said Mr. Herman.