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Manufacturing video contest turns 5; Berks version expands

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Each year, the Manufacturers Resource Center video contest attracts more students and has since expanded beyond the Lehigh Valley to across Pennsylvania.

Once more, PBS-39 will collaborate with MRC to bring middle school-age students in the region the opportunity to explore future careers in manufacturing.

This year marks the fifth anniversary for the Lehigh Valley contest, which will have 30 teams from 22 districts in Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties. The student teams will tour local manufacturers and create videos of what it’s like to work in the manufacturing world.

The venture not only brings students closer to the world of manufacturing but also gives more exposure to the local companies that participate, as well as providing parents and educators an inside view on the benefits of a career path in the field.

PBS-39, based in Bethlehem, offers teachers in-person training needed to coach the student-led, project-based curriculum. Throughout the development of these video stories, PBS-39 provides students with three formative assessments to help them create their best project.

VOTING, AWARDS CEREMONY

Once the students’ projects are complete, the public can vote online to choose the winners of the Lehigh Valley contest at WhatsSoCool.org from Feb. 21-23. MRC will host a public awards ceremony at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem on Feb. 27.

Last year, MRC created a pilot contest for Berks and Schuylkill counties and will have a full one this year with 29 schools participating, said Jack Pfunder, president and CEO of MRC.

That contest awards ceremony is March 6 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Reading, with voting also online at the same website from Feb. 28-March 2. PBS-39 also provides production support for the Berks/Schuylkill contest.

AWARENESS

Pfunder sees the annual contests as important for building awareness about the careers available in manufacturing.

“I think the key is more companies are trying to get more kids involved in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math],” Pfunder said. “It’s definitely good for their image. The single biggest problem in manufacturing is hiring talent.”

More students are getting involved in engineering, and the contest appears to be helping to improve the image of manufacturing for students and parents, he added.

A number of manufacturers are participating in both the Lehigh Valley and Berks/Schuylkill contests this year, including Ocean Spray Cranberries, Eastern Surfaces, BioMed Sciences, Stanley Black & Decker, Reading Plastic Machining & Fabrication, Hydro and Berks Packing Co.

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