Utica Campus field trip connects STEM, automotive technology to workforce opportunities

Posted by Erin Vaughn Jones on Wed, Nov, 01, 2017 @ 15:11:00 PM


Hello from Hinds, Utica Campus!  On Oct. 27, I had the opportunity to take 22 students from the Utica Campus to visit the Nissan Canton Assembly Plant located in Canton. The Canton Plant makes more than 400 vehicles daily and each vehicle is test driven.

The Nissan Plant opened in 2003 and brought automotive production to Mississippi for the very first time.  Nissan employs more than 6,000 people. In addition to the manufacturing facility, the Nissan Canton Plant houses a bank, medical clinic, pharmacy and postal service.  Nissan is also a champion of diversity and was named DiversityInc’s Top 25 Noteworthy Companies in 2016. 

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I decided to coordinate the student visit to Nissan because of student interest. Many students wondered what possibilities were there to work at Nissan and what credentials they would need. Because Nissan employs a variety of people to do a variety of jobs, I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring students from Career and Technical Education as well as students from Academics.

I partnered with the Department of Natural Science and Automotive Technology to make this trip a success. Both departments seemed thrilled at the opportunity for their students to visit. Instructors from both departments selected interested students to participate in the experience.

Prior to departure, students were informed of the Nissan dress code for visitors, and they all took a questionnaire about what they hoped to learn from the experience. Student interests ranged from wanting information regarding future job opportunities to learning how various vehicle parts are made. I also expected to learn about: 1. How mechanical robots functioned, 2. The various jobs offered at Nissan and 3. Opportunities for internships. 

We were warmly received by the Nissan staff upon our arrival. Some of the staff introduced themselves and shared how long they had been working at Nissan, the various job positions they started off with at Nissan and their current job positions at the company. Next, Human Resources covered a range of topics including job types, pay scales, continuous education and training and the benefits of working at Nissan. Lastly, Nissan employees discussed internship opportunities for students. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions about degrees and/or certifications needed, on-site training and additional fringe benefits. 

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We visited the training center following the presentations to view some of the robots and how they functioned. After the training center tour, we toured the plant. On the plant tour, we saw car parts being painted, steering wheels being installed in vehicles and the stamping press. In essence, we saw how a car was built from start to finish.  It was an amazing experience, said Hezekiah H. Williams, a STEM student who went on the trip.

“Nissan gave a very thorough view of how vehicles are made, held, shipped from facilities,” he said. “They also showed how car parts are made and installed in the car. The tour allowed me to see the technology and innovation into how cars are made. I learned that making something right takes time—especially when you are dealing with people’s lives.”

Additional student comments from the tour included: 1. “Starting off the pay is well, especially for an assembly line worker.” 2. “I learned about paid internships.” 3. “Going into the computer engineering field is limitless because at Nissan you can go into electrical or mechanical engineering. Thank you! This was a great experience.” 

Many thanks to Nissan for an awesome experience!


Erin Vaughn Jones serves as the director for Instruction and Intervention Equals Retention and Graduation at Hinds Community College’s Utica Campus.

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