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Record Number of Votes in This Year’s ‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?’ Student Video Contest

By Colin McEvoy on March 1, 2018

It was another record-breaking year for the fifth annual “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” student video contest, with a record 130,000 votes coming in for the videos over the course of three days.

“The videos this year are by far the best I’ve ever seen, so congratulations to all of you,” Jack Pfunder, President and CEO of the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC), said during a Feb. 27 ceremony at Bethlehem’s ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.

Thirty teams from 22 school districts in Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon counties and the Diocese of Allentown participated in this year’s contest, Pfunder told an announced crowd of more than 900 people at SteelStacks, where this year’s winners were announced.

Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem won Outstanding Program/Overall Excellence for its video featuring Atlas Machining & Welding, while the Northampton Area Middle School won the Viewers Choice award for its video with B. Braun Medical. Those videos are below.

All 30 videos can be found here. The contest was co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and was produced by MRC, with production provided by PBS39 Lehigh Valley.

The contest seeks to create awareness for a younger generation of what a career in manufacturing is like, as well as to encourage enrollment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs at Lehigh Valley technical schools and combat negative stigmas about the industry.

“When children in seventh and eighth grade start thinking about a career, unfortunately manufacturing isn’t even on their radars in most cases,” Pfunder said. “That’s because of an  outdated image about manufacturing. We have found to break this cycle, it’s very important for kids to see first-hand what an advanced manufacturing company looks like, and that’s what this contest is all about.”

Each team of students visited a regional business to learn what they do and what a career in manufacturing entails, and created a video based upon their visits. Each video runs between 2 and 2 1/2 minutes, and contains at least three interviews from company representatives.

Participating companies include B. Braun, C.F. Martin & Company, Crayola, Follett, Just Born, Lutron, Mack Trucks, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and Victaulic.

In addition to Bethlehem Northeast and Northampton Area, this year’s winners included:

During a video-recorded message that was played at the ArtsQuest Center ceremony, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf commended the students for their participation in this contest. He also noted his new Manufacturing PA initiative, which he first unveiled during a Lehigh Valley visit in October.

“As your videos demonstrate, this is an exciting time in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “Technology and innovation are changing manufacturing, and Pennsylvania is in a position to succeed. I commend each of you for getting a jump-start on your own exciting careers by learning about manufacturing in Pennsylvania and participating in this wonderful program.”

Pfunder particularly praised seven teachers who have participated as coaches for the student video teams in each of the five years of the contest: Colin Ackerman (Nazareth), John Bendekovits (Northampton), Sylvia Gordon (Raub), Meredith Lesney (Saucon Valley), Michael Pauling (Southern Lehigh), Rachel Shook (Northeast), and Tara Walter (Southern Lehigh).

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