Students and CooperVision employees talk at an event that was part of Small Business Week. Submitted photo

Sophomore and junior Algebra and Chemistry students from Wheatland Chili High School visited the CooperVision Scottsville manufacturing facility as part of the Monroe County Small Business Week initiative. The students toured the manufacturing floor and engaged in a panel discussion with CooperVision employees. Students learned how contact lenses are manufactured and the type of skills necessary to work in a manufacturing environment.

“To be an effective team member you need to do three things,” said Senior Process Engineer Garret Kokx. “Be a leader with a vision. Be a problem solver. Be present. That means, put away your phone and really engage with your teammates. Do those things and you’ll make a big difference for the company lucky enough to hire you.”

CooperVision staff discussed growing fields in manufacturing including robotics, automation, and controls engineering. They also discussed alternatives to four-year college including trade schools, apprenticeships, and online learning.

Sr. Manager Human Resources Toni Zeiser commented on the number of female students participating in the tour. “Manufacturing is still largely a male dominated field so it’s wonderful to see so many ladies interested in math and science.”

Other skills CooperVision staff emphasized were networking, listening, and being respectful. “Communication is everything,” said Kristin Lenzi Learning and Development Supervisor. “Knowledge is important, but you need to communicate with your teammates and build those relationships.”

Tresia O’Shea is Director Regulatory Compliance & Quality Assurance and a Wheatland-Chili High School parent. In conclusion to the panel discussion she added, “If you understand each other’s strengths you’ll realize you’re smarter when you all work together.”

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