October was recognized as National Manufacturing Month, designed to share an appreciation for the men and women who work in manufacturing and to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in this vital part of our economy. Our locations in both Milwaukee, WI and Longview, TX participated in events to introduce the next generation to the wide range of careers associated with manufacturing. These events included: 


Employees in Longview welcomed 110 girls from the Pine Tree Independent School District in elementary and middle school to the facility over the span of two days to participate in a “Girls in Technology” event. The students were welcomed by Diane Thompson, Director of Technical Services, who flew in from Komatsu’s Franklin, PA facility. 

The students were able to choose to participate in a wide variety of hands-on stations including a Drone Challenge, an Ozobot Maze, a Rube Goldberg Challenge and checking out the Earth Moving Simulator. With the leadership of Mark Barr, Director-Longview Engineering, Dan Flournoy, Director-Human Resources and Brenda Hunt, Specialist-Benefits & Wellness, countless volunteers from Longview’s engineering department were on hand to facilitate the various stations and share more about manufacturing and engineering at Komatsu. 

Mark Barr commented on the positive impact of the day. "It was our great honor to partner with the Pine Tree School District to inspire a future generation of “Girls In Technology”. The hands-on activities introduced many exciting technical concepts and I believe our engineers were having as much fun as the students. &ldquo

For more information about the Girls in Technology Event check out this article in the Longview News Journal


For the second year Milwaukee played an active role in celebrating Manufacturing Month by working with local partner, Menomonee Valley Partners to participate in two events. These events included: 

Manufacturing Month School Tour:

Over twenty students enrolled in Project Lead the Way at Tenor High School toured the National Avenue facility. Tenor High School offers students the opportunity to receive a high school diploma and a Milwaukee Area Technical College program certificate or technical diploma, and/or credits in a post-secondary degree program. The students participating in this opportunity enroll in a variety of manufacturing-related classes directly at MATC. 

The tour kicked off with an overview of the company provided by Nick Voelz, Senior Engineer and Team Leader-Structural Engineering. Following a wide range of thoughtful questions, the students toured the Electrical Engineering lab, hosted by Chuck Payne, Senior Engineer and Team Leader-Advanced Automation. This was complimented by a tour of the Machinery Factory led by Rob Crofts, Manufacturing Manger I and Norb Tilidetzke, Machinist.  

Throughout the entire tour the students were attentive and inquisitive.


“I was explaining the monitors in the show and sharing how we track labor. A girl asked, “are the employees being paid differently based on how much they do or what jobs they work on?” shared Rob Crofts.

Norb Tilidetzke then explained that we now track productivity which is how well the operator performed to the hourly rate of their job, with an emphasis on quality.

“The students were also curious about safety, asking how many accidents we have here” added Rob. “I explained that we don’t have a lot of accidents but we are tracking everything up to a near miss, performing a full investigation on what caused the near miss because we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Giving the students the full glimpse of a manufacturing facility, from design to production helps dispel myths about manufacturing and spotlight the technologies being used every day.

Women in Manufacturing Day:

Two women from Komatsu participated in the 2nd Annual Women in Manufacturing Day which offered high school girls from Bradley Tech, Tenor and Carmen High School the opportunity to hear from women in industry, tour a manufacturing facility and hear from students at local tech and four-year colleges. Joan Kraut, Cost Estimator, and Jennifer Soborowski, Pricing Project Manager, represented the company. Joan and Jennifer gave a unique perspective in highlighting careers in manufacturing that are sometimes not discussed. The experience allowed the students to feel comfortable to ask a wide variety of questions from both the technical and educational perspective, but also a personal perspective.

Jennifer shared, “The most interesting question I received was, “Did you have to give anything up (boyfriends, friends family…. etc) to get where you are today?”.

All of the experiences allowed Komatsu employees to play an active role in introducing a wide variety of manufacturing STEM careers to the next generation. Inspiring today’s youth to pursue STEM careers is a priority for Komatsu as we recognize the important role they will play in taking our industry forward.