ProMat 2017 marked the fourteenth consecutive year that MHI has welcomed students and their instructors to Student Days. Since 2015, the event includes an extensive schedule of Classroom Day activities within the walls of McCormick Place on Wednesday, and a second day of off-site distribution center tours hosted by companies within the Chicagoland area.
The event is sponsored and underwritten by MHI’s College Industry Council on Material Handling Education (CICMHE) and Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program—in partnership with the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. (MHEFI) and the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA). In 2010, the sponsors began welcoming students and instructors from high schools, trade and technical schools, community colleges and correctional institutions to join the college and university scholars in attendance.
These students represent MHI’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program, which has grown tremendously, with numerous schools nationwide basing their curriculum on CTE’s four Fundamentals of Warehousing and Distribution textbooks. Likewise, as the number of CTE schools has expanded, so too has the number of CTE students attending Student Days. In fact, ProMat 2017 saw 97 CTE participants and 167 university- and college-level students—the largest numbers ever at the event.
The reason for the growth in CTE student attendance, said Vicki Phillips, instructor in the Supply Chain Management & Logistics Technology Program at the Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI), is that the opportunity to attend a major material handling and supply chain trade show is a tremendous enhancement to their schools’ curricula. Phillips has been bringing students to MHI Student Days since the beginning of the CTE program’s inclusion in the event, selecting two to four of her top pupils to attend annually.
“I have a pretty amazing classroom—an actual distribution center,” she said. “Of course, we talk about the global supply chain, and we have hands-on tasks for the students to gain experience. But attending Student Days truly shows just how vast our industry is. When my students walk onto the convention floor and see all the different types of vendors and equipment that this industry has to offer, they are amazed. It really hits home that this is a global industry.”
Like Phillips’ school, many CTE programs give students hands-on experience at on-site warehousing facilities, in addition to providing class time and textbook-based lessons. The buildings can house a variety of forklifts, racking, warehouse management software and other technologies that students are likely to encounter in a warehousing environment.
By Angela Jenkins