By Lichelle Brown, JSU Graduating Senior
Earlier this week I had the incredible opportunity of touring the Nissan factory in Canton, Mississippi with Jackson State University (JSU) classmates. From start to finish, I was fascinated by the operations and management of the state-of-the-art facility, one of three significant Nissan developments in North America.
Known as The Driving Force (TDF), the mentorship program I participated in was initiated by auto experts Kimatni D. Rawlins and Greg Morrison, and was recently extended for a second year to offer JSU students multimedia career opportunities within the automotive space with sponsor Nissan North America. Through the Black Automotive Media Group (BAMG), scholars from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) participate in a 10-week academic program that includes virtual training, mentoring sessions, and in-person product experiences such as the plant junket.
The tour started with an introduction to the Japanese company’s plan to build multiple electric vehicles (EVs), which are becoming inevitable. Senior Director, Victor Taylor, expressed the importance of changing current business models to expand into the marketplace. After putting on safety gear, we witnessed the fascinating technology throughout the factory while receiving an introductory strategy for reconfiguring it to accommodate EV production. The already impressive facility will have specialized equipment to produce electrified rides with the same quality as Nissan’s traditional gas-powered autos.
“Our first-year collaboration with Jackson State University and Nissan North America created a diverse program that allowed JSU students to flourish with the extended resources provided,” said BAMG founder Kimatni D. Rawlins. “TDF will continue providing professional development tools for talented scholars while offering supplementary perspectives on automotive industry opportunities.”
Nissan’s commitment to a sustainable and consciously cleaner future was evident during the visit. With an emphasis on minimizing environmental impacts, the company completely recycles poorly stamped sheet metal and uses earth-friendly paint on each vehicle that comes off the line. Also, Nissan built a wastewater treatment system on-site, making it an environmentally green facility. It was genuinely inspiring experiencing Nissan’s usage of cutting-edge technology to address some of the most significant issues facing the auto industry today.
Additionally, Nissan Canton highly values employee health, beginning with the incorporation of a medical facility. Using ergonomic tools, the Nissan factory has made it a mission to protect its employees physically and mentally so they are encouraged to participate in the complimentary therapy offered.
The tour ended with my newfound appreciation for Nissan’s engineering, innovation, communications tactics, and mantra of “caring,” found in every product made and employee mindset. It is evident that Nissan is dedicated to positive growth and pushing the boundaries of possibilities in the automotive industry.
Afterward, Lloryn Love-Carter Carter, Senior Director of Manufacturing Communications, shared her life experiences and the pathway that brought her to Nissan. She stressed strong writing skills, a willingness to try various job assignments, and the importance of vertical and horizontal networking as critical skills for the student group as we advance academically. I can’t wait to witness what Nissan comes up with next as the mobility field shifts toward a greener future.