Katie King has long wanted to be an engineer, but the high school junior admits “I had no idea what an engineer really is.” An internship at Yorktown-based Mursix Corporation introduced her to manufacturing engineering, a field she didn’t even know existed until she spent weeks inside the auto component production facility. King was just one of several interns Mursix employed during the summer of 2016. While it marked the first time the manufacturer had high school interns, the company has now recognized a critical need—motivating Mursix to throw open its doors for young people.

Mursix Director of Human Resources and co-owner Susan Carlock says the company is losing “tribal knowledge” as much of its skilled work force prepares to retire in the next five to 10 years. The manufacturer believes enticing young people to the industry is critical.

“Mom, dad or grandparents may have a different view of manufacturing, especially after the recession in 2008 and 2009 and the loss of businesses and jobs here,” says Carlock. “We’re trying to show kids there are manufacturing jobs for them; it’s alive, and there’s a lot of opportunity from entry-level to higher up. You don’t have to have a college education.”

Noting the recession was “incredibly difficult on our region,” Carlock says Mursix’ work force dwindled to 82 employees, but the family-owned business has grown exponentially and now employs 314. She believes one of the best strategies to showcase the industry’s viability is to get young people in the door.

“You can come into our factory and nearly eat off the floor; that’s always a shock to people when they visit,” says Carlock. “Plus, the new technology and robotics—it’s really intriguing to these kids. They’re Millennials, they love their gadgets.”

The interns were part of the Conexus Interns Program, led by the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) initiative Conexus Indiana. The program aims to convert current AML students to employees and expose high school students to AML careers.

Carlock believes Mursix interns gain a unique perspective of the industry, because the facility is a “one-stop shop.”

“We can expose them to different parts of the business that other companies can’t offer, because they have a more limited scope of what they do,” says Carlock. “We go from the design and engineering process all the way through creating the part, adding value and shipping it out the door. We’re more than just a production facility.”

Carlock says the Conexus Interns began their internships certain about the area they wanted to focus on, but some changed their minds after rotating through each department. Engineering-minded King, for example, was fascinated by production control and logistics.

“It’s the logistics of getting everything shipped on time; they have clients in the U.S. and internationally. You have to communicate with other countries, and it was really cool and interesting just seeing how it all flowed,” says King, who attends Yorktown High School. “You don’t think about the fact that there are 30,000 pieces that need to be shipped to China in a week.”

The demographics of Mursix’ employees also made a lasting impression on King.

“There were a lot more females than I expected. There were women all over the company, and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome. My dreams aren’t that unrealistic,’” says King. “I first thought about a career in aerospace. I never thought about manufacturing; it just wasn’t something that I considered. After [interning at Mursix], I realized it was a lot more interesting than I thought. It changes your perception of manufacturing.”

King laughs about the approach she uses to get her peers interested in manufacturing internships.

Carlock says rotating the interns through each department was an eye-opening experience.

Carlock says an approaching wave of retirements is motivating Mursix to focus on internships.

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