Students at middle schools and high schools across the Louisville area took a field trip on Friday without leaving the classroom -- it was all virtual.

“It’s never been done before in the world,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Fischer visited Jenna Wolter’s eighth grade science class at Carrithers Middle School to help give a virtual tour of GE Appliances for the very first time.

Students used their computers to ask questions while they were on the tour.

“I asked how long does it take to make an oven?” said Will Haden, an eighth grader.

After the tour, a live panel of GE employees answered the questions, hoping to change the perception of what jobs are like in manufacturing plants.

“We want folks to know that manufacturing is not what a lot of folks have as this image of a dirty work environment. You can see here today, this is cutting edge,” Fischer said.   

“It seems a little different to me because I thought maybe it would be a little more boring,” Haden said.

“I didn't think that it would be appealing at all. I thought that it would just be different people working building things,” eighth grade student, Elise Scott said.

Both Hadem and Scott say after watching the virtual tour, their minds were changed about the manufacturing industry.

Unanimously, the class's favorite part was learning about “the robots,” Haden said.

“I thought the robots were programmed and they did that automatically. I didn't know people actually controlled them,” Haden said.

“I learned that 3D printing is an easy, efficient way and it's cheaper to make prototypes,” Scott said.

The tour is part of National Manufacturing Month to help spark interest in manufacturing.

“We want to make sure that we have a pipeline of great talent moving forward,” Mayor Fischer said.

“The focus [at school] was on the 4 year degree, but not everyone is cut out for that and people who love to work with their hands, they love to problem solve , they love working in a team environment, manufacturing would be great for them,” GE Appliances spokesperson, Kim Freeman said.

“We had about 4,500 students watching today in 150 [JCPS] classrooms,” Freeman said. 

The mayor says there are 70,000 manufacturing jobs in Louisville, but there aren't enough people to fill the positions.

Although this was the first virtual tour of its kind, based on the student’s reception of the tour, GE is planning more for the future. 

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