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Student Videos Answer the Question: ‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?’

By Colin McEvoy on March 6, 2015

What’s so cool about manufacturing?

That’s exactly what the students from 22 middle schools in Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties set out to learn as part of a student video contest sponsored by the Manufacturers Resource Center.

Hundreds of students participated in the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” contest, and 100,000 votes were cast last month in selecting a winner. This marks the second straight year of the contest, which was co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

Some students really went outside the box in terms of creativity. One video included a superhero named “Bottleman.” Another featured Jedi warriors in the tradition of “Star Wars,” and another featured a battle between a wolf and a pig.

“What we saw this year was very creative, very different from last year,” said Jack Pfunder, MRC president and CEO. “The average video this year was far greater than last year, and I’m sure all you guys can go talk to those ninth graders about that.”

Nearly 700 people, including 130 students and 22 coaches, attended the awards ceremony at ArtsQuest Center in Bethlehem on Feb. 24.

The Northampton Area Middle School won top honors for its video about Effort Foundry in East Allen Township. All the student videos, which average about two minutes each, can be found on the “Dream It, Do It, PA.” website.

The complete list of winners includes:

  • Outstanding Program: Southern Lehigh (Crayola, Forks Township)
  • Outstanding Editing: Nazareth (ABEC Inc., Hanover Township, Northampton County)
  • Outstanding Creativity: Francis D. Raub, Allentown (Stanley Vidmar, Allentown)
  • Outstanding Cool!: Northampton (Effort Foundry, Bath)
  • Outstanding Team Spirit: Northern Lehigh (Amcor, Upper Macungie Township)
  • Outstanding Educational Value: East Penn (Nestlé Waters North America, Upper Macungie Township)
  • Outstanding Videography: Bethlehem Northeast (Strahman Valves, Bethlehem Township)

Some students placed Go-Pro cameras on fork lifts and assembly lines in preparing their videos, Pfunder said. Companies highlighted included Crayola, Nestle Waters, Lutron, Victaulic, Just Born and Martin Guitar.

The contest grew from 19 to 22 schools this year, with the addition of Carbon County, according to Pfunder, who said new counties may be added next year.

Participation and interest in the contest grew tremendously; only about 350 people attended the ceremony last year, roughly half the crowd from this year.

“Our intention was to supersize the contest this year,” Pfunder said.

Last year’s contest was funded by state grants, which were unavailable this year. More than 40 companies offered help to ensure that the contest continued, Pfunder said.

Teri Haddad, vice president of production and education at PBS-39 in Bethlehem, said the contest teaches students not only about manufacturing, but such skills as communications and digital media.

“For those of you who are not video producers, you don’t know that it’s really hard to edit these videos,” Haddad said. “You take hours of footage and narrow it down to two-and-a-half minutes. It’s really a big deal what these kids have done.”

Bill Wydra, president of Ashland Technologies Inc., a manufacturer based in Hegins, Pa., spoke during the awards ceremony. He praised the student videos and the contest in general, saying with 3-D printing and new technology, it was a great time for young people to get involved with manufacturing.

“I am blown away by what you all have done on these videos,” Wydra said. “We’ve been trying hard to get the youth involved in this industry like this.”

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