Krystal Makel is a freshman at Anna High School in Anna, Texas, currently taking PLTW’s Introduction to Engineering Design course. On Oct. 4, Krystal and nine other students from her high school participated in a special day-long event hosted by Toyota to recognize Manufacturing Day, a day for companies across the country to invite students, teachers, and others from their communities to experience modern manufacturing. Toyota is a PLTW Transformative Partner.
Today began like every other day, and then it wasn't.
My school asked me to attend a trip to Toyota's North American headquarters in Plano, Texas. At first, I thought it was going to be about cars, but quickly realized it was so much more. I learned that there are many different careers in manufacturing other than just working on cars. There are so many jobs dedicated to reviewing the product to make sure it is ready for the public. I learned how the supply chain operates and how important each part of the chain is to getting the needed supplies to the manufacturing plants around the country.
We also went to the shop where we learned how technicians fix cars when they are damaged. We got some hands-on experience with removing dents and aligning the body of the vehicle to specs.
Something that surprised me was that there is a lot more to Toyota than just cars. Toyota is focusing on mobility for the future. We saw robots that can help people in many ways with mobility, learned about a wheelchair that can climb stairs and put people at eye level with other people, and heard about the possibility of a car that flies. Toyota is focused on helping people get around easier.
We also saw how Toyota utilizes robots in their manufacturing process and learned that even though robots can do some jobs faster and with more accuracy, there is still a human element needed for quality control. One thing I saw that was familiar to me was how Toyota uses the engineering design process, just like we have been learning about in my Introduction to Engineering Design class. I saw sketches, mock-ups, and prototypes, which are all things we have used in my class as well. This trip really showed that the design process is an important part of engineering in any type of work.
When I go back to school, I will have more knowledge about manufacturing jobs and the skills needed to do them well. The knowledge I gained today will play a role in future projects that I do at school. The experience will help me to brainstorm ideas I may not have thought of before and continue to design and build my ideas. I will always remember my trip to Toyota and thank the people there who made it a fun and educational experience.
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