Manufacturing Camp Allows Students to Help Shape the Future

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The annual Mahoning Valley Summer Manufacturing Camp is underway, starting its two-week journey Monday with a walk in a park instead of a factory.

This year’s theme is 3D printing and urban design, according to one of the organizers, Marvin Logan, executive director of Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology.

“What the students are learning is how to manufacture bikeable, walkable, transportation friendly cities,” said Logan, adding that later students will also 3D print a holder for their bicycles.

Students from both Mahoning and Trumbull counties took a walk through downtown Youngstown on Monday, evaluating the newly installed wider sidewalks, the street converted as a pedestrian walkway and even Wean Park. During their exploration of the park, students talked about some things they liked and some things they would improve about it.

One student pointed out there needs to be more trees for shade. Other students discussed the need for more benches and nearby water fountains.

But then they got even more creative with suggestions that included a water splash pad, a swimming pool and even a zip line.

“We wanted to show them, hey, this is what development in progress looks like,” Logan said of the downtown tour. “I remember growing up as a kid, downtown Youngstown didn’t look like this. We’ve put over a decade of work into this project, and we aren’t done yet.”

Logan points out the students are being prompted to consider how to make the park more accessible to more people and how those who visit the park actually get there.

Youngstown CityScape has been involved in several of the downtown projects, including the Youngstown Smart2 Project, which the students saw parts of Monday, as well as improvements to Wick Park. Adam Lee, program director for Youngstown CityScape, was one of the adults talking about urban planning with the students and gaining their input during their walk in the city.

“We got the input of the kids, which we really love for a lot of reasons,” Lee said. “They’re going to be using this for a really long time in our community here. It is important to get broad input from different aspects of our community, and they always have a unique point of view.”

Throughout the week, the students are going to visit corridor areas in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties, discovering areas that have been developed, are in the process of being developed or in need of being developed. Additionally, the students will be visiting manufacturing businesses in those areas.

Lee said students will see bike lanes and crossings and talk about the importance of making cities safer for everyone, no matter how they choose to get around. Additionally, they will go to the St. Joseph demolition project in Warren and talk about how space could be used in the future.

“We really want to give them a very comprehensive but mini view in a nutshell – what is urban design and what is urban planning, and how is it related to manufacturing?” Lee said.

At the end of the week, students will digitally design a city block, showing what their idea of an ideal city would look like. Students will spend time at Wick Park each day, and toward the end of the program, they will get to design on computers at YSU.

A finale will be held in Wick Park at the end of next week, when U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, will address them by video. The senator is one of the people involved in organizing the camps. According to Logan more than 20 organizations join together to make the manufacturing camp a success each year.

For more than a decade, the Mahoning Valley Summer Manufacturing Institute has provided students with hands-on learning activities during the summer, teaching them about teamwork, local manufacturing, future career opportunities and STEM skills. Logan is quick to point out this is the longest-running manufacturing camp organized by Brown in the state.

The YWCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and Warren City Schools helped to register fifth- to eighth-grade students, who get a chance to attend the camp for free through donations from a variety of organizations and foundations. Logan said a lot of places know the camp is important not just to the future of the students, but also to the city.

“As Ohio continues to transition into becoming the silicon heartland, we look at different opportunities to be able to engage and enrich the talent that we have, even in our efforts of repopulation,” Logan said. “One of the key ways to be able to do that is to be able to have young people who are already engaged in our community as they are continuing to grow.”

The information and ideas they get from the students will be passed onto the city, the parks and others involved in the future planning in the areas students visit.

“Our hope is that by the time they graduate from high school, they will have been able to see something that they will have been able to put their imprint on in terms of developing the community,” Logan said. “Being able to continue to have that K-12 pipeline and continue that awesome partnership we have with Youngstown State University, we want to be able to keep the Valley strong, keep the Valley’s students strong through exposing them to the best opportunities that are available and getting them to see how manufacturing touches all of their lives every day.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.