Lehigh Valley Sweeps Statewide What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? Contest

By Colin McEvoy on May 26, 2022

Students from the Bangor Area Middle School accepting the award for Outstanding Overall Program award in the Lehigh Valley regional What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? student video contest.

It was a clean sweep for the Lehigh Valley at this year’s statewide What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? student video contest

All four student videos from the Lehigh Valley that were selected to participate in the statewide competition ended up winning prizes, and only one school district from outside the Lehigh Valley was among those selected for the top awards.

“We are very excited to see the energy generated for education and manufacturing statewide through the What’s So Cool program,” says Rich Hobbs, President and CEO of the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC), which founded the contest 10 years ago.

“Pairing student teams and local manufacturers to work together provides a real-world project for students resulting in greater understanding throughout the community about the high-paying career opportunities in today’s advanced manufacturing environments,” Hobbs said.

The regional contest was held in April, with 28 school districts from the greater Lehigh Valley area creating videos providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of regional manufacturing companies as part of the student video contest.

The contest seeks to increase awareness of career paths and technology in manufacturing, and dispel false perceptions younger generations may have about manufacturing jobs.

“The 2022 statewide winning videos did a remarkable job showcasing manufacturing, STEM and technical education through excellent digital story telling,” Hobbs said.

The top four winners from that regional contest participated in the statewide competition on May 18, competing against the winning videos from nearly a dozen other counties and regions across the country, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Lehigh Valley videos won in every category, with Eyer Middle School’s video about BlueTriton Brands winning first place, Northeast Middle School’s video about Lutron Electronics Co. taking second place.

Additionally, the Springhouse Middle School won the audience-voted Viewers Choice awards for its video on Stanley Black & Decker, and Bangor Area Middle School won third place for its video about L&M Fabrication & Machine, which had won first place in the Lehigh Valley contest.

Bangor tied for third place with Conrad Weiser Middle School in Berks County, which was the only school from outside the Lehigh Valley to take home an award, according to the statewide contest results.

“The strong performance from our region speaks to the strength of the What’s So Cool program that was founded by the MRC almost 10 years ago, as well as the levels of commitment from our manufacturers and schools to the program,” Hobbs said.

He noted that judges from across the state were utilized to determine the category winners at the state competition level, ensuring for a fairly evaluated competition and keeping our own regional biases isolated from the results.

The four winning videos from the Lehigh Valley can be viewed below, and all of the videos can be viewed on the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? website.

A growth in manufacturing output in the Lehigh Valley launched the region into a Top 50 manufacturing market in the United States in 2020. Manufacturing makes up the second-largest portion of the region’s $42.9 billion gross domestic product in 2020, with a total economic output of $7.9 billion.

The What’s So Cool? contest featured school districts in Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe, and Carbon counties and the Diocese of Allentown. Each was partnered with manufacturers in the Greater Lehigh Valley area, and teams of students and teacher coaches received camera equipment, software, and professional guidance as they learned to script, record, and edit their videos.

Other participating Lehigh Valley manufacturers this year included Bosch Rexroth Corporation, Equipto, JULABO USA, Lehigh Valley Plastics, Mack Trucks, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., Orbel Corporation, Primal Critical Care, ProtoCAM, Tyber Medical, and more.

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