Public voting begins Wednesday for the annual “What's So Cool About Manufacturing” contest in the Lehigh Valley.
Now in its sixth year, the competition pairs manufacturers in Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties with middle school students and teachers in the region.
The students then learn about what the manufacturers do and create a video that illustrates “what’s so cool” about that company.
The initiative was the brain child of the Manufacturers Resource Center in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and began in the Lehigh Valley.
“There’s really nothing out there that’s like this,” said Karen Buck, Lehigh Valley contest manager.
It’s really a community event. It’s not just for the four to eight students on a team. The entire community can learn about the jobs that are out there at our local companies.”
The popularity of the program, which is geared toward getting young people interested in careers in manufacturing, has grown steadily since its inception with other parts of the state adopting their own “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing Programs.” It is now in 16 regions.
Statewide, this year’s contests will see participation by 225 school/manufacturer teams.
“We're excited that a program started here in the Lehigh Valley has become so impactful for education and manufacturing throughout Pennsylvania, said Jack Pfunder, president & CEO of Manufacturers Resource Center. “The public voting really allows students to get the word out in a community about what a job looks like and the careers available at area manufacturing companies."
The contest format also has been adopted by groups in 11 other states.
In the Lehigh Valley contest, companies like B. Braun, Orbell, Mack Trucks and Ocean Spray (video below) have been working with students since October to create videos that explain their operations.
All the videos are online for viewing at www.whatssocool.org. Voting for the Student Video Contest will open Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 12:01 a.m. and run until Friday, Feb. 22 at 11:59 p.m.
The student video with the most votes will win the coveted “Viewers’ Choice Award.”
The videos will also be reviewed by a panel of judges for awards in ten other categories, including Outstanding Career Pathway, Outstanding Brand Placement and Outstanding Creativity.
The initiative will cumulate with an awards event at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Feb. 26, where more than 1,000 participants and supporters are expected to come out to celebrate the winning videos as well as the local manufacturing industry and STEM education in the Lehigh Valley.