“Competing to Win” in PHS applied technology while manufacturing a better future

Monika Jurevicius, Editor-in-chief

D211 offers various programs within its schools that make it a prime example for applied technology. The district partners with local community college, Harper College, and businesses in the community to further enhance students’ availability to the workforce and higher education after graduation.

“Our manufacturing program and related applied technology courses illustrate what it means to create a clear pathway from high school to post-secondary careers,” District 211 Superintendent Lisa Smalls said. 

President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers and chairman of the Manufacturing Institute Jay Timmons visited PHS on Nov. 16 to promote NAM’s manufacturing campaign called “Creators Wanted.” The campaign seeks to promote careers in manufacturing as shortages are apparent throughout the nation.


“We need creators,” Timmons said while addressing PHS students. “We also need builders and dreamers and doers and makers. In short, we need every single person in this room.”

Timmons launched the Manufacturing Institute in 2022 which advocates for the rights of manufacturing workers. They estimate that four million jobs will be available to the public in the manufacturing industry by the end of the decade. “Competing to win” is an initiative that has been set in motion as a way to fill those positions through an online job forum. 

“There is a need for skilled manufacturing workers,” Smalls said. “We are addressing that immediately and directly here in D211. We’re preparing our students for the next steps.”

The applied technology department at PHS houses courses in architecture, engineering, car maintenance, carpentry, and more. Skilled trade certifications are offered on campus, but also in conjunction with programs at Harper College. PHS principal Tony Medina told PHS Cutlass that this field helps students think about what they want to do after high school, especially if college is not what a student is considering. 

“There are opportunities in D211 and at PHS that not every school has in the state of Illinois,” D211 assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Joshua Schumacher said. “Not everyone has a manufacturing lab. [D211 applied technology department chair] Mark Hibner does an amazing job of connecting with the community…they want to become more involved with [applied technology].”

Timmons toured the applied technology wing to see what students were doing in the classroom. He first visited the school in 2018 to see the manufacturing classes. In the upcoming year, D211 will offer welding classes as a result of its high reputation in this field of study.

“What I saw here is astounding,” Timmons said. “Palatine is a best-in-class example of how to train your own people for the opportunities in the future.”

NAM workers with “Creators Wanted” to lead the next wave of workers into the manufacturing industry. Timmons emphasizes that his work is not directly related to manufacturing, but advocating for it. He hopes students will take the skills they’ve learned in school and apply them to creating “the planet healthier and making a brighter future for the next generation.”

“Whatever you learn, you can then apply to other parts of your life to help not only you succeed, but lift others up,” Timmons said.