Film, Higher Education, and Manufacturing

Students turn lens on manufacturing

April 17, 2014
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Students turn lens on manufacturing
Forest Hills Eastern students visit Amway.

An annual high school student video competition aims to promote interest in the manufacturing industry.

The winning videos will be shown at 7 p.m., April 30, during the second annual Discover Manufacturing Today event at Celebration Cinema North, according to Michigan Works of Kent and Allegan Counties, one of the sponsors of the program.

The challenge features high school student-produced videos highlighting growth and advancement opportunities in the manufacturing industry and carries a first place cash prize of $2,500 to the school affiliated with the winning team. Discover Manufacturing Today is a collective effort of local manufacturers, economic development agencies, workforce solutions organizations and academic institutions.

Jane Kreha, marketing and communications manager at Michigan Works, said the collaborative work among The Right Place’s MMTC West Manufacturer’s Council and Kent Intermediate School District was a result of local manufacturers seeking talented workers to meet their growing needs.

“Manufacturers across the region are not finding the skills in the students, or interest in the students,” said Kreha. “We are all working together, which is a huge push with us now, because it is just so effective.”

Participating West Michigan high school students partner with local manufacturers to understand growth and advancement opportunities in the manufacturing industry. The competition is a way of addressing the need for workers with advanced manufacturing skills, and fostering interest in students.

Jay Dunwell, president of Wolverine Coil Spring, said the video challenge is a way to introduce students to the high-tech, advanced manufacturing industry in West Michigan and then share their learning and enthusiasm with others. Wolverine Coil Spring produces innovative metal formed products and is based in Grand Rapids.

Student teams from Careerline Tech Center, Kent Career Technical Center, and Rockford, Forest Hills Eastern and Kenowa Hills high schools interviewed local manufacturers concerning career path choices and growth opportunities in the industry. More than 20 local companies participated in the video challenge, including manufacturers such as Amway, Wolverine Coil Spring, Cascade Engineering, JR Automation, Walker Tool & Die, Medbio and Paragon D&E.

Manufacturers are targeting high school students to garner interest in the industry before they are committed to different career paths, according to Kreha.

“That’s where they felt they need to start changing this perception,” said Kreha. “They are not only targeting high school students, but parents and guidance counselors as well. By the time students are in college, it is most likely too late.”

Videos submitted to Discover Manufacturing Today were posted on the video competition’s Facebook page and open to public voting. Student videos were also reviewed by a panel of judges, and were ranked based on a variety of criteria including creativity of the video, and how well the interview questions were addressed. The judging panel consisted of representatives from local manufacturers, Grand Rapids Community College, The Right Place, Kent ISD and Michigan Works.

There are six cash prize awards. Schools associated with the student teams are eligible to win $2,500 for first place popular vote or $2,500 for the judges’ top vote. The second place video for popular vote or judges’ rank receives $1,500, while the school with the most video entries and the school with the most entries per student population both receive $1,000. Students are awarded gift cards based on how their video fares in both the popular vote and judges’ vote. First place videos in both categories earn $75 gift cards for each team member; second place teams are awarded $50 gift cards per student.

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