Over 100 Local Students Attend Expo on Women in the Trades, Logistics, Manufacturing and Engineering Industries

Free expo, put on by Cerritos College, SELACO and hosted by Toolots, connected young women pursuing trades with successful tradeswomen, organizations seeking to expand educated workforce

CERRITOS, Calif. – Feb. 23, 2017 – More than 100 middle and high school students converged at Toolots headquarters in Cerritos Wednesday for the Women in the Trades, Logistics, Manufacturing and Engineering Expo. The event was an opportunity for dozens of young women from a range of school districts in Los Angeles County already pursuing the trades through their current coursework to interact directly with female engineers, construction workers and tradeswomen already successfully integrated in the industry. The expo was offered by the Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board (SELACO) and Cerritos College.

Los Angeles area schools from the ABC, Paramount, Downey and Whittier Unified school districts sent busloads of students to learn about real-world career opportunities directly from those who have successfully entered the industry during the free expo. A majority of students were from the high school level, but students from one Whittier middle school also attended.

Five panelists, including female senior engineers, an apprenticeship instructor and others involved in the trades as part of their day jobs, gave informative presentations on what it is like to actually work in a trades-related career. Students seized the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists, some who were in the same place as these middle and high school students years ago, inspiring many to pursue their careers of choice – whether through continuing education, pure dedication or an effective combination of both.

Toolots hosted the expo at its headquarters in Cerritos – a facility that includes a sprawling warehouse and various high-tech machines, ranging from the latest plastic injection molding machines and CNC automated devices to ever-popular cold cut saws, mills and lathes. The company agreed to host the expo after discussions with SELACO, the area workforce development group that strives to invigorate the region’s workforce and make direct connections with employers in a wide range of industries for young people, the unemployed and underemployed.

“We were more than happy to support SELACO and Cerritos College in promoting the entrance of women into the trades, a career path in increasingly high demand,” said Toolots Chief Operating Officer Raymond Cheng, calling the expo an absolute success. Toolots plans on having future discussions with multiple area school districts about setting up internships, job shadowing and/or educational programming to continue helping young women enter the industrial, manufacturing and engineering-related job space.

The expo was developed to help local female students have a better understanding of the industry, and it gave them a unique opportunity to meet one-on-one and connect with women who have successfully entered the trades. The expo organizers partnered with area school districts and their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as individual instructors and their classes, to draw a real-world connection between what they learn in the classroom and effective skills they can later put to use in a career.

Cheng and other speakers at the event referenced reports that industrial careers are some of the fastest growing occupations in the country – and some of the highest paying. Industrial and materials engineers, for example, earn an average hourly wage of more than $40 (between $84,000 and $91,000 annually), based on the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics findings from 2015. Deloitte, a UK-based multinational professional services firm that tracks and projects the outlook for a wide range of industries, is optimistic about United States manufacturing; according to their latest projection, American manufacturing “is likely to experience stronger growth in 2017 following multiple years of positive, but a subdued, rate of growth.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of available STEM jobs is on track to increase by an average of 14 percent by 2020. Some STEM-related careers, like biomedical engineers for example, are projected to grow by as much as 62 percent during the same time frame.

During the panel presentation and Q&A session, students heard personal stories from speakers on how the women entered the trades in the first place. Panelists described taking classes where they worked with their hands, and how satisfying it is to do what they love and get paid to do it. After the panels, students attended presentations reinforcing the girls’ self-esteem through a variety of group activities.  

“All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world,” the Department of Education stated. Los Angeles area STEM programs are working hard to ensure young women and men feel they have equal access to this growing field, inspiring them to pursue continuing education and secure a career within the industry that demands more and more educated workers each year.

For photos taken during the event, visit our online photo gallery via Dropbox folder available here. If you’d like to download, share or publish these photos, feel free to do so and please credit Toolots Public Affairs.

Panel participants and speakers included:

  • Ashley Davitt, senior design engineer with ACCO Engineered Systems in Orange County, whose work focuses on heating, ventilating and air conditioning design within commercial buildings. She oversees design, construction and commissioning of projects in offices, laboratories, schools and manufacturing centers. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and is a state-registered mechanical engineer in California.
  • Jeanne Carnegie, a senior quality assurance engineer with Arconic Fastening Systems and Rings, deals with supplier management and works with IT programmers. She previously developed procedures with the Shimadzu Corporation for the manufacture of landing gears for planes, writing the manual for their operation. She has also worked in loss control engineering and developed an electronic system to collect information in the refinery and drilling industry.
  • Lisette Cruz, a pre-apprenticeship instructor with the Bridging Outstanding Opportunities with Tradeswomen Skills and a member of The Sisters in the Brotherhood, works to help women enter into successful careers in the union carpentry trades. Through The Sisters of the Brotherhood, she conducts outreach to mentor women considering carpentry as a career, and men who have the same interest. Since 1990, Cruz has been a member of The Sisters of the Brotherhood and Joiners of America. She received diplomas in carpentry home building maintenance and welding.
  • Mary Wall, director of operations at JMC2, where she provides clients with practical, innovative solution as a civil engineer. She began her career in structural engineering with Grossman & Speer Associates. She also managed numerous residential subdivision developments as a project manager for CTA Inc. and Lewis Homes, which was later acquired by KB Home. She managed the operations as 50 percent owner of DW Wall Construction Inc. and additionally, has conceived, designed, built and successfully run a restaurant, which she later sold. She has experience overseas coordinating the startup of a special needs school in China. She received a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Southern California.
  • Viridiana Hernandez, a graduate student in Cerritos College’s Engineering Design and Plastic/Composite Tool Design programs, and is finishing up her last year at California State University, Los Angeles to earn a degree in Industrial Technology. She works for Con-Tech Plastics, a plastic injection molding company located in Brea, and attends school full-time.
  • Anais Maseda, seminar and training coordinator for Polishing the Professional, inspires young women to take on the challenge of fine-tuning their own personal drive towards their dreams. Polishing the Professional provides leadership, imaging direction and personal branding services to a variety of clients – from designing programs, hiring and evaluating staff to monitoring fiscal operations, according to its website.
  • Carolyn Hines, a business owner, entrepreneur, career development program instructor and advisory board member for the Minority Worker Training Program, serves on various boards of directors in the Los Angeles area including as Vice President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources Board of Directors, Vice President of the New Image Emergency Shelter for the Homeless Board of Directors. Hines has been at the helm of her own company, the Hines Hospitality Group, since June of 1992 and more than 23 years of experience in the industry.

About Toolots

Toolots, headquartered in Cerritos, California, offers an online marketplace and international distribution channel for factory-direct industrial tools, machinery, and technology. The user-friendly platform provides fast, easy access to high-quality, affordable equipment to manufacturers. Toolots’ comprehensive services streamline the purchase, delivery, installation and warranty of industrial technology, machinery and components, and uphold the quality of important goods through a vetted network of vendors and service technicians. The company’s dedication to fostering international trade relations passes on cost savings to the consumer, contributes to reduced downtime, improves productivity and expands a manufacturer’s reach. Toolots has strategically located warehouses, showrooms, and offices across the United States, as well as in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. For more information about Toolots, visit their website at www.toolots.com.