Faces of Manufacturing: a Co-op with Real-World Experience Leads to a Career

Faces of Manufacturing: a Co-op with Real-World Experience Leads to a Career

"It’s never too early to start tinkering with things around the house to learn how they are made and how they work or even coming up with designs to make them better. Kids that enjoy these types of activities would be a great fit in this industry."

One in a Manufacturing Day series that celebrates the industry’s workers, from the C-Suite to the shop floor.

LaRuthie Mason

City/State of Residence: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Job Title: Industrial Maintenance Training Manager

Company: Shaw Industries, Inc.

Years with Company: 10

Industry of Your Company: Carpet Manufacturing

Training / Education: B.A. mathematics, B.S. mechanical engineering, Six Sigma Green Belt

What made you decide to pursue a career in manufacturing?

I decided to pursue a career in manufacturing after my first cooperative education (co-op) experience at Shaw. The experience allowed me to work with engineers in the company, and I was assigned to real projects. I also saw how the classes I was taking in college applied to real-world industry applications. I definitely wanted to be a part of this industry.  

What does your job entail?

I currently manage the learning and development program that trains and qualifies existing and future industrial maintenance associates for Shaw Industries.

What is the most interesting part of your job? Your proudest moment?

The most interesting part of my job is the various opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of my colleagues to develop innovative solutions to grow the business. 

My proudest moment at Shaw was my involvement in the start up of the company’s MakerSpace. The Shaw MakerSpace is a physical space where associates can collaborate to prove concepts and develop prototypes using 3D printers, laser engravers/cutters, CNC routers, electronics, programming and basic fabrication. The MakerSpace is also a philosophy that promotes the collaboration of individuals with diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences to solve the problems we face day to day.  The ultimate goal is to develop purposeful innovations that add value to our company's bottom line. Our goal is to re-introduce the maker culture to manufacturing.

What do you love about manufacturing?

I am passionate about manufacturing because it’s such a dynamic field with various growth opportunities. As a mechanical engineer at Shaw Industries, I am empowered to innovate, solve problems, optimize processes and implement solutions to make things more efficient and more effective. I enjoy working in this type of environment.

What advice would you give to kids considering a job in manufacturing?

I would like for kids to understand that there are many career opportunities in manufacturing, especially in industrial maintenance and engineering. If you enjoy working with your hands, figuring out complex problems and fixing your broken toys, then you should consider pursuing the various STEM careers in manufacturing. It’s never too early to start tinkering with things around the house to learn how they are made and how they work or even coming up with designs to make them better. Kids that enjoy these types of activities would be a great fit in this industry.

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