CANFIELD, Ohio — Members of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition are preparing a series of summer camps and other outreach initiatives to attract young people to opportunities in manufacturing.
“It’s the 10e year of involvement with the Summer Manufacturing Institute,” said Leah Merritt, President and CEO of YWCA Mahoning Valley. “We really wanted to focus on the middle school age, especially the girls, because we’re seeing a lack of young women entering trades and the manufacturing space.”
MVMC hosted an all-member meeting this morning at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
The initiative will include two summer camps, one that begins June 21 to July 15 in Youngstown, and a second that begins July 5 to July 29 in Warren, Merritt said.
Oh wow! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology in downtown Youngstown is also a partner with the institute, Merritt said. The Oh Wow! will introduce young people to disciplines such as music engineering and other related careers in manufacturing, she said, while incorporating an artistic component.
The summer camps will also include 10 manufacturing-themed tours of businesses and organizations in the region, she noted.
“We’re really excited,” Merritt said.
Other outreach initiatives include a mobile manufacturing unit operated by the Valley STEM + Me 2 Academy and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
“We are very fortunate to have achieved this,” says MCCTC Superintendent John Zehentbauer. The trailer, first launched in 2018, is equipped with machinery that can engage students from the fourth grade.
“The key is to engage students in the making – whatever it is,” Zehentbauer said. The mobile unit provides practical equipment such as 3D printers, injection molding, CNC milling machine and even a t-shirt printer.
Additionally, the unit includes flight and welding simulators, he says.
“We have some pretty cool stuff,” he said. This year the mobile unit will travel to the Canfield Fair, festivals and other schools.
Rachael Gensburg, program supervisor at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, said this year was the third year of hosting its summer manufacturing camps.
“They fill up so fast and we have parents begging us for more places,” she says.
The first of those camps begins next week, Gensburg said, and focuses on fabrication, welding and engineering.
“Our welding camp is a huge success,” she said, noting that TCTC often receives calls from across the state asking the school to share its program with their districts. The welding camp is open at 7e up to 9e graders.
“To have 7e at 9e the levelers get experience in welding – they love it,” Gensburg said. “These are the children who come back and they are the ones who end up working in the field.”
The goal is to make a product that they can take with them after the program ends, she said.
Field trips are also planned for senior high school students to area manufacturing plants, Gensburg said. Next week, for example, students are scheduled to visit MVMC’s founding company, Brilex Industries, in Youngstown.
“It really seems to have a lot of impact on their way of thinking and how it might become a career for them later on,” she said of the making tours.
“Students come to this grade level with very little knowledge of what manufacturing looks like,” Gensburg said. Many, she added, don’t realize this type of opportunity is available in northeast Ohio.
“We’re so excited,” added Gensburg. “We’ve found that if we can get a student to change their mindset in manufacturing at those lower levels, then they start to think of it even more as a later career.”
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.