MOLINE, IL—Aspiring engineer Sabrina Starkweather, 16, got a closer, and virtual, look at what it takes to enter the manufacturing industry Wednesday afternoon.

As reported in the Quad City Times, the Moline High School sophomore was one of about 40 students who volunteered to visit the John Deere Seeding Group plant here to learn about future job opportunities. Along with the tour, she tried her hand at virtual reality welding and heard stories from employees who chose manufacturing as their career paths.

“I wanted to come because when I’m older, I want to be an engineer, so this all intrigues me,” Starkweather said, after seeing how well she scored on the VR training program. “I think people often think of factories as being unsafe, but seeing everything today, it seems like a really nice place to work, and they have a very innovative way of doing everything. And seeing the women working here, it seems like the number of women going into jobs like this is going up.”

Deere is opening its doors to students more often, according to Director of Labor Relations David Ottavianelli, hoping to attract a new generation of manufacturing workers. As the manufacturing sector grows and unemployment continues to drop, he said Deere is trying to be proactive to meet future hiring needs.

“This is not just a John Deere issue. There are a number of partners throughout our community that are in the same situation,” Ottavianelli said. “We know in the long-term with the increase in manufacturing jobs and retirement of baby boomers across the nation, there’s going to be an increased need for manufacturing roles.”