A few years ago, I was talking to an official in the last administration about how to best support American manufacturing, and he remarked to me, “you know, everyone says they want more manufacturing, but no one wants their kid to do it.” We are working to change that.
Manufacturing is one of our state’s most important industries, but too often, our companies can’t find workers with the right skills, while our students don’t realize all the opportunities available to them. When some students hear the word “manufacturing,” they think about dirty, dusty old jobs, and the outdated, offensive term “rust belt.”
But today’s Ohio factories aren’t rusty – they’re innovative and high-tech, and will provide good-paying, high-skilled jobs to future generations of Ohioans.
We need to help today’s Ohio students see all of the potential careers they could have in Ohio manufacturing. That is why, for five years now, my office has put on summer manufacturing camps for 4th through 8th graders across Ohio. And the number of camps has grown each year – we’ll have at least 19 camps this summer, in every corner of the state.
Campers will have the opportunity to tour actual engineering and manufacturing facilities, and work on hands-on projects that allow them to see where STEM education can take them in the real world.
Students in Mahoning County will build their own musical instruments or their own boats, learning about the engineering involved in music and travel. Sixth-graders in Geauga County designed and wired circuit boards for their own boom boxes, and made the shells with a 3D printer. Girls in Lorain will meet with mentors in STEM careers.
One 11-year-old girl came to camp one summer because she loved math. Her favorite part was the manufacturing hub tour in Youngstown, because she got to see a laser. But she didn’t just see a laser that day. She saw a potential career and a future that excited her.
My hope for all our students is for them to see the many Ohio manufacturing opportunities that are available and to get excited about their future.