The New Face of Manufacturing: Jessica Addison, Michelin Technical Scholar
Manufacturing jobs once held the reputation as being mundane and repetitive. But, with advances in technology and automation, today’s manufacturing jobs require highly skilled, creative thinkers who not only show up, but innovate and problem solve. Jessica Addison, a Michelin Technical Scholar, is one such example of a manufacturing employee who thrives on the challenges her job brings each and every day. She is the new face of manufacturing.
Q: Tell us about your position with Michelin:
A: I work in facility maintenance as a Michelin Technical Scholar. As part of the Michelin Technical Scholars program, which is a partnership between Michelin and my technical school, I am able to work at Michelin to gain on-the-job training while I also pursue my associate’s degree in electrical engineering technology.
My job is to support the tire building operation at our plant, primarily by troubleshooting issues that arise and conducting ongoing maintenance on our machines. This can be compared to changing the oil in your car—it keeps our equipment running smoothly.
When our machines do have issues, I analyze the failure mode and work to determine the cause. This is actually my favorite part of my job, not only because you get to figure out why the machine isn’t working, but it challenges your knowledge of the machinery. You never quite know what to expect, but I find it rewarding to be able to analyze the situation and solve the problem.
Q: Why did you choose a job/career in manufacturing?
A: I never planned on a career in manufacturing. After I received an undergraduate degree in sociology, I found that my educational background didn’t generate any employment opportunities. I decided to go back to school for a technical training program, which led me to the Michelin Technical Scholars program. My school advisor told me about this opportunity and I thought, “Why not?” It’s a great deal for me—I get to go to school while working a part-time job with a great company. And, unlike my sociology degree, the skills I am learning create many employment opportunities.
I love my job with Michelin. Being able to work with my hands, think critically and not be stuck at a desk all day is ideal for me. Also, I like the fact that I am always learning new things. Every day, I’m exposed to something new to me in the mechanical and electrical fields. And, I’ve found that I’m ahead of my classmates because of the hands-on training I get at work. I get to see the real-world application of everything I’m learning in the classroom while I’m working at the plant.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and/or working in manufacturing?
A: My job is dynamic. There are always new problems to be solved. Some solutions are mechanical and some are electrical, and each day is different. For example, I recently helped develop a procedure to update our machine software. My co-workers will also learn this procedure and use it in their jobs. And, just this week, someone came to me and asked for my help in fixing a problem, and I was able to do it by myself. I felt proud of my ability to take care of the problem, and to know that I am helping to add value to the company.
Q: What is your best advice for those seeking jobs in manufacturing?
A: Like Nike says, “Just do it.” The industry is interesting and the work is fulfilling. Many of the stereotypes of manufacturing are incorrect. For example, the work isn’t repetitive—it actually requires a very high level of skill and critical thinking.
I’m continually excited about all the things I’m learning. After graduation as a Michelin Technical Scholar, I hope to stay at Michelin and work full time. And I know that in my manufacturing career, I will always continue growing and learning new things, and will be happy with the career path I’ve chosen.