Cooper Tire has joined The Manufacturing Institute's (MI) Dream It. Do It. initiative, becoming part of a network of companies and organizations throughout the United States that share the goal of enhancing the image of careers in manufacturing and addressing the widening skills gap in the nation's manufacturing workforce pipeline.

"Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy, and we all should be concerned about the supply of future talent with the desire and capability to make the products that keep our economy strong," said Brenda Harmon, Chief Human Resources Officer for Cooper. "It's not just that demographics are working against us, we also have a generation of young people who have been steered away from manufacturing or at least not encouraged to explore good jobs in manufacturing that may or may not require a college or technical degree. As a result, hundreds of great jobs in manufacturing go unfilled as some young adults find themselves unemployed or underemployed and possibly saddled with significant college debt. We have jobs for those with a good work ethic and a desire to learn—with or without a college degree—and we must be working with parents, educators and community leaders to help students understand the wide range of opportunities that exist within Cooper and manufacturing in general. If we want students to think about a career in manufacturing, we need to help them understand how exciting and technology-driven today's manufacturing industry really is."

In Cooper's first year of involvement in Dream It. Do It., the company will focus its efforts in U.S. communities where it operates tire manufacturing facilities, including Findlay, Ohio; Tupelo, Miss. and Texarkana, Ark. As part of the effort, Cooper has appointed a Dream Team, which is composed of more than 25 employees who hold a wide variety of positions within these facilities and at Cooper's corporate headquarters and technical centers, also located in Findlay. Throughout the year, the Dream Team will execute multiple programs in local communities, including children's mentoring efforts, teaching in local middle schools using interactive, manufacturing-related curriculum, and engaging in a number of other community-based efforts such as fairs and speaking engagements to drive broad awareness about careers in manufacturing.

Cooper Celebrates Manufacturing Day throughout October

Among Cooper's many initiatives is a special focus on activities during October to coincide with the celebration of Manufacturing Day, which this year is Oct. 2. Cooper will be involved in activities in its communities throughout the entire month:
  • In Findlay, Cooper Dream Team members and others will host approximately 800 eighth-grade students Oct. 13 through Oct. 16 for the Cooper Tire Manufacturing Experience, which will bring the students on site at Cooper where they will move through a series of interactive experiences designed to spark their interest in manufacturing. For example, students will learn about raw material composition, material weights and quality control monitoring. They will also interact with Cooper engineers using CAD simulations to design tires for specific performance characteristics. In addition, they will learn about the use of 3D printing and will participate in manufacturing simulations that involve tire assembly, curing, finishing, testing and the importance of work done behind the scenes by millwrights and electricians.
  • In Tupelo, Cooper Dream Team members and others will participate in the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo on October 6 and 7 where approximately 3,000 eighth-grade students will visit a variety of company-sponsored exhibits at the BancorpSouth Arena. This event is sponsored by the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund and CREATE Foundation. It will feature dozens of local businesses who will provide hands-on demonstrations that give students a glimpse into various career opportunities, including those in manufacturing. Students will hear from those who work in featured businesses about their jobs and the paths they followed to realize career goals.
  • In Texarkana, the Dream Team and others will host the Cooper Tire Manufacturing Experience at the Texarkana Convention Center on October 20 and 21 for approximately 1,100 eighth-grade students. Those who attend will have the opportunity to experience what it is like on a manufacturing floor by learning how to measure and place building components, visually inspect products and use hand tools. A local technical school will also provide information to students about skilled trades occupations similar to the ones at Cooper.

Students who attend Manufacturing Experience events at Cooper will be encouraged to share their experiences through social media using #cooperiscool and #mfgday15, which will expand awareness of manufacturing to friends and family across the U.S. All students who attend will receive manufacturing safety gear.

"I am excited to be involved in Cooper's first Dream Team because I know we can make a significant positive impact in our communities," said Luke Schroeder, Mechanical Project Engineer at Cooper's Findlay tire manufacturing plant. "This is a great way to reach out to youth and educate them on career possibilities in manufacturing while also countering any misconceptions they may have. I really enjoy my career in manufacturing, but I would not have known to pursue it if I had not been educated by an older sibling. Through this effort, we plan to do just that with hundreds of kids. Manufacturing is about working as a team across all functions to achieve common goals. That's what keeps companies successful and careers sustainable. Today's manufacturing world is very technical and dynamic. It's important for kids and their parents, teachers and others to know that."

As a parallel program, Cooper has instituted a Centennial Scholarship program open to the children of employees who intend to pursue a career in manufacturing and meet certain other requirements. The scholarship was inaugurated this year in recognition of Cooper's 100 th anniversary, which was commemorated in 2014. Three winners were selected in 2015 and are now in their first year of studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Findlay. Applications open in February 2016 and more information is available at www.community-foundation.com.

About Dream It. Do It.

Today's manufacturing is about advanced technologies, state of the art facilities, and fast-paced work environments. But most of all, manufacturing is about people who like to see the product of a hard day's work. However, this is not the impression of manufacturing that is held by many Americans today. Only 35 percent of parents say they would encourage their children to pursue careers in manufacturing despite the advanced skills and high pay that are characteristic of work in today's advanced manufacturing industry. This is due to a perception of manufacturing that existed a generation ago but does not represent the current reality of the industry.

To put an end to this misperception, The Manufacturing Institute launched the Dream It. Do It. network in 2005. Dream It. Do It. works to change the perception of the industry and inspire next-generation workers to pursue manufacturing careers. Members of the Dream It. Do It. program gain access to national support and resources to aid their pro-manufacturing efforts and join a network of industry leaders that implement activities to meet local, regional and statewide workforce needs.

The initiative offers local manufacturers, schools, community-based organizations and other stakeholders the opportunity to partner with a respected national platform to promote manufacturing as a top tier career choice in the United States. Dream It. Do It. promotes manufacturing to three distinct target markets: students, parents and educators. In 2014, the network successfully engaged 365,000 students, 43,000 educators and 27,000 parents.

About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of passenger car and light truck tires. Cooper and its subsidiaries also sell medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. Cooper's headquarters is in Findlay, Ohio, with manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations within its family of companies located in more than one dozen countries around the world. For more information on Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.

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