Lehigh Valley Schools Honored at What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? Contest

By Colin McEvoy on June 11, 2020

Students from the Wilson Area Intermediate School being honored at the Lehigh Valley regional 2020 What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? student contest in February 2020. (courtesy photo)

Three school districts from the Lehigh Valley were featured among the best What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? videos in Pennsylvania, and another from the region came away with the statewide contest’s Viewers Choice Award.

The annual What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contest challenges middle school student teams from throughout the state to shoot, edit, and promote short videos that document their experiences with a local manufacturer.

Regional contests were previously held throughout Pennsylvania, and the top videos from each went on to compete in the statewide Best of PA 2020 Contest. The winners were selected by a panel of judges and announced during a virtual event on June 9.

Video footage of the virtual event can be viewed here:

The Springhouse Middle School of the Parkland School District won the Viewers Choice award for its video about Sharp Packaging Solutions, a global market-leading packaging company with several facilities in Lehigh Valley.

In addition to Springhouse, three of the 22 student videos that made it to the Best of PA 2020 Contest were from Lehigh Valley. They include Northeast Middle School’s video about Nestle Waters North America, Eyer Middle School’s video about the Allen Organ Company, and Lower Macungie Middle School’s video about Smooth-On, Inc.

Those videos, and the other videos from the other participating school districts from across the state, can be found here.

Springhouse’s Viewers Choice Award win means their video generated the highest total of votes per day from their local community during its contest period. The contest in Pennsylvania has generated more than 3 million online votes since its inception in 2013, and video by Springhouse and Sharp broke all state records for the number of votes for a single school contest, according to Jack Pfunder, founder of What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?

“Never could I have imagined the great success that we have experienced over the last  seven years,” said Pfunder, who was President & CEO of the Manufacturers Resource Center before retiring last year. “Great job to all the student teams in the history of this program.”

Sharp has been rapidly expanding its Lehigh Valley presence in recent years, with a $23 million renovation to its Bethlehem Township facility in 2018, a $21 million expansion of packaging capabilities at its Upper Macungie campus last year, and its recently-announced acquisition of a pharmaceutical packaging facility in Lower Macungie Township.

“Sharp Corporation is honored to work with Springhouse in making this video,” said Thomas Deutsch, Sharp Packaging Solutions Director of Corporate Support Services. “Congratulations for your well-deserved reward.”

The videos of the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contest educate students, parents, and teachers about career pathways in the manufacturing industry and seek to dispel the negative myths and stigmas associated with manufacturing jobs.

The contest began in 2013 with 16 school districts, and since that time 283 districts have participated, coming from 58 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. A total of 508 unique manufacturers have been featured in the videos, and more than 5,000 individual students have participated in the contest since its inception.

“As you have all learned through your excellent work, today’s manufacturing is not your grandfather’s industry,” W. Gerard Oleksiak, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, said in a presentation during the online ceremony.

“It’s not dark, dirty, and dangerous; these opportunities are increasingly clean, technology-oriented, and available, and we need to fill these jobs with a highly skilled workforce,” Oleksiak said. “Despite the challenging times we’re facing right now, some day very soon that highly skilled workforce will be needed, and it will include you.”

Saint Clair Middle School in Schuylkill County won first place in the Best of PA 2020 Contest for its video about Hydro. Second place went to Reading Southern Middle School and its video on Novipax LLC, and Oil City Area Middle School won third place for its video about Matric Group.

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