CHAMPION, Ohio – Before coming to the Trumbull Career and Technical Center’s Manufacturing Camp, Dylan Davis was certain he was going to be a mechanic.
Dylan, who will be a seventh grader in the Lordstown Local School District, now says he was convinced – midway through his sessions with entrepreneurship, engineering and welding – that computer engineering is a better career choice.
The camp, held at TCTC in Champion for those in grades five through 10, was sponsored by CMT Technologies and Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs, which provided a grant of $5,500 for the camp.
The objective of the camp, which is in its second year, is to build stronger relationships with local businesses, says TCTC career development coordinator Rachel Gensburg.
Dylan says it is important for not only himself, but others his age.
“Since the [COVID-19] pandemic we’ve lost a lot of learning capabilities,” says Dylan, who is one of 38 children registered for the camp. “Going to this camp has helped a lot with learning new stuff.”
Claudia Kovach, corporate secretary and vice president for CMT Technologies, encouraged these young people to be involved in trades. She understands not everyone is going to be a machinist or mechanic, as her company employs. Barber, hairdresser, veterinarian technician, medical assistant, chef or an array of other professions – there are many opportunities in the skilled trades, she says.
On June 24, Kovach put two containers on each of the tables at her morning session containing straw sticks and marshmallows. Each group of students had five minutes to construct something creative.
Their paths, she says do not have to be paved toward college.
“I think that’s unfair because a lot of children would benefit by going into skilled trades,” Kovach says. “You’ll be debt-free. We always like to say, ‘The more you learn, the more you earn.’ ”
The campers were divided into three groups of no more than 15 to give more individual attention to each, says Gensburg.
The goal was to guide the mostly middle school students through options for career opportunities. The camp provided visuals for some of those job possibilities.
Gensburg says TCTC hosted a dental camp where a young girl said she never wanted to stick her hands in someone’s mouth again.
“What value is it to learn that in seventh to ninth grade?” Gensburg asks before answering. “Then we can keep figuring out what we want to do. That’s our goal – help kids figure out how they can do something, make a living to support themselves and their families in the Trumbull County area.”
Tasso Anastasiades, who will be a ninth grader in the Howland Local School district, says he wanted to learn how to use 3D printers.
This camp solidified his path as an engineer.
“You can meet new friends, make things,” he says. “There’s a lot of things you can do.”
Terri Fleming, a TCTC pre-engineering teacher, has her groups work on a wooden car that will be either molded with knives and files or with a bandsaw and a drill press. Each of the students were given a safety test before they began forming their vehicles. By the time the camp ended June 25, each was equipped with a CO2 injector.
Fleming encourages students to ask questions and figure out what went wrong when designs do not work.
“That whole process of failing is important, and accepting failure or getting the wrong answer isn’t a bad thing,” she says. “You’ve got to move on from it. Don’t get stuck on it.
“It’s a completely different mindset I teach in here because it really is about solving problems.”
Students also experienced live welding and performed a butt weld, which is joining two pieces of metal end to end and fusing them together. They were dressed with protective jackets and helmets, spending the first day on safety procedures.
This hands-on experience is something children as young as eighth grade should get, says TCTC high school welding instructor Bob Olesky.
“I think every kid should touch on a week of every industrial trade program in a nine-week period,” he says. “They can cycle through building trades, carpentry work, machining, welding, auto repair, auto collision, just to get a taste of it.”
“For some kids, it’s going to trip the trigger.”
Each student had to come up with a product name, slogan and explain their invention, and eventually create logos on computers. From there, stickers were created in the TCTC fabrication laboratory based on their business name or logo. Then, the garment printer was used to create T-shirts as they pitch their ideas. Finally, 3D printers were used to help market their products.
Angela Bettura, who is going to be a sixth grader at St. Christine School in Youngstown, says she was excited to use 3D printers and other technologies.
In her entrepreneurial class, she and her group were brainstorming ideas for products. Angela had an idea for a solar-panel swing that was cool in summer and warm in the winter.
Meanwhile, Alexander Higbee, who will be going into sixth grade in the Brookfield Local School District, concocted an idea for a multi-use grooming instrument for travelers.
“This age group has a lot of ideas, especially things that would make their lives easier,” says Laura Tisher, TCTC library media specialist. “That business aspect is a new introduction to a lot of them.”
Pictured: CMT Technologies corporate secretary and vice president Claudia Kovach spoke to students at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center’s Manufacturing Camp. She held up a tool belt and other objects as her audience guessed what type of jobs were associated with the items.