Clark County students to learn about STEM careers during summer camp

Participants in the manufacturing camp at The Dome practice with small drones so they can play drone soccer Monday, June 6, 2022. The camp was organized by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the My Brother's Keeper Springfield Chapter. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Participants in the manufacturing camp at The Dome practice with small drones so they can play drone soccer Monday, June 6, 2022. The camp was organized by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the My Brother's Keeper Springfield Chapter. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The camp is to help expose students to new technology and career pathways.

Clark County on Monday kicked off a three-week summer camp that’s aimed at exposing young people to STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — jobs, in hopes that they will someday enter those career fields.

During the Manufacturing and My Brother’s Keeper Ohio Camp, students will learn something different each day during, including drones and rockets, programming and software behind the drones. They’ll also visit Clark State College to learn about welding and robotics, 3D printing and electronics. At the Springfield Air Base, they’ll see drones in action and virtually pilot the new passenger drones.

“This camp is very heavy in the technology, exposing them to new technology, and trying to get them exposed to see all those optional career pathways,” said Rene Stratton, program coordinator for the CareerConnectED. “We hook them with the amazing, really fun stuff they like to do and then we piece it together (to show) jobs and career opportunities and the kind of pathway to get there. There is no one set path, but we try to give them ideas to get there.”

There have been recent investments in the region related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and air mobility testing to attract more companies and agencies conducting research in both areas as well as the development of that technology. The hope is that work will eventually attract manufacturing and distribution operations related to that technology to the region.

The airport has made strides in recent years to become more accommodating to companies developing that type of technology as well as those working on air mobility. Millions of dollars invested in new equipment and the construction of a National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport will help pave the way for more testing related drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOL).

The UAS and eVTOL programs at the airport are expected to drive future job growth in that field.

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There are 682,800 Ohio employees in manufacturing as of April, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). This is compared to 662,800 last year, a 3.02% increase.

Although there was an increase in manufacturing jobs over the last year, the Bureau of Labor Market projects that there will be a 4.6% decrease by 2028. The annual employment in 2018 for manufacturing was 708,692, with a projected employment of 676,267 by 2028, a decrease of 32,425 jobs, according to ODJFS.

In Clark County, 16% of people worked in manufacturing in 2019, according to the Office of Workforce Development, ODJFS. This is compared to 13.9% in 2010 and 16.1% in 2004.

Manufacturing is in the top three industries in the county, which increased from 5,843 workers in 2010 to 6,525 in 2019.

This camp has many community partners, including the Springfield City School District, Braxton Miller Foundation, the Springfield-Bexley Municipal Airport and Clark State College.

The office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped organize the camp, which is also the first My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Ohio camp in collaboration with the Springfield MBK chapter. MBK was started as a national initiative to help the opportunity gaps faced by young men of color.

“We want the technologies that will drive the next generation of U.S. economic growth and manufacturing to be developed in America, and to put people to work at good-paying jobs in America,” Brown’s office said in a statement. “We know that Ohio has some of the best manufacturing talent in the country, we just need investment. These manufacturing camps help students see the opportunities available to them in these industries and give them hands-on experience for future careers.”

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Lashonda Miller, executive director of the Braxton Miller Foundation, said one of its pillars is education and stem and that’s why they partnered with the school and Extreme STEM for this camp.

“Wanting to bring our mission to the Springfield area, we’ve partnered with the Springfield City School District to bring it into the schools, bring it to the kids where they are at,” she said. “With the connections and the vision that we have for STEM, bringing it to (the school) with the kids and the resources that they have, that is what makes it a beautiful partnership... Together we create something that’s really amazing for the kids.”

This camp helps students and employers with workforce development, Miller said.

“The things that I love that we are doing this week, is these are the technologies that these kids are going to grow into. These are the technologies that are going to change their future. We’re giving them the skills they need as kids so as the technology advances, they’ll be ready for it when they become adults,” she said.

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