Industrious students learn about manufacturing

Industrious students learn about manufacturing

Image Credit: Lori Feeney

The Tuscarawas County Dale Lauren Foland Manufacturing Camp was designed to change student perceptions about the world of manufacturing.

Held this year from July 19-22 at Buckeye Career Center, the camp offered incoming seventh-grade and eighth-grade students a glimpse into the changing world of high-tech manufacturing and the jobs it provides.

This was the fifth year for the camp, which was first held in 2016 but skipped two years due to the pandemic. Mike Hovan of Lauren International is the chair who makes the camp come together and run smoothly.

“This year we have 68 kids attending, which makes us by far the largest camp in the state,” Hovan said. “The intent is to simply show kids the opportunities that exist in manufacturing, particularly here in Tuscarawas County, and that it’s not what they sometimes perceive it to be.”

Hovan said Lauren International became involved with the project as a way to honor the company’s founder. “We got involved as a legacy project for our founder, Dale Foland, who passed away in 2016. The companies that participate are the ones who really run the camp and make it possible. They give presentations, take the kids on company tours, and some sponsor the camp with additional dollars.”

The students gathered at 8 a.m. and had breakfast before breaking into four classrooms for a 50-minute interactive presentation by a local company. “It’s very hands-on,” Hovan said.

Around noon they had lunch before piling into buses for company tours. Hovan said each year the camp sees new companies come aboard such as ODOT and Battle Motors, both new this year.

“Every company here is very high-tech,” Hovan said. “The whole purpose is to expose kids to manufacturing, particularly in Tuscarawas County, where we have such a strong manufacturing base with some very advanced companies — so kids learn that there are other jobs besides just running machines.”

Tuscarawas County is just one county participating in the camp started by Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

When launching the initiative, Brown said, “Manufacturing is one of our state’s most vital industries, and it’s important that students realize all the potential career paths they could take. But when they hear the word manufacturing, they think about dirty, dusty, old jobs and the outdated, offensive term rust belt that demeans our workers and devalues their work. 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. These summer manufacturing camps are helping young Ohioans to see that.”

Hovan said the camp also gave students something tangible to take home to their parents and discuss. “Every one of these businesses gives them something to take home, to pile stuff on the table, and when their parents ask, ‘What did you do today?’ they can show them. We hope it starts a conversation about what manufacturing entails today.”

On the third day of the camp, students designed custom cars using AutoCAD design software in a session led by representatives of Meteor Sealing Systems. They also set off hydro-rockets and created a dust explosion in the session led by Dover Chemical experts. In the process the students learned how to apply Newton’s laws of physics and how dust can dangerously explode in factories if proper cleanings do not take place.

Camp ended with a graduation ceremony at BCC for students and their parents.

“We also do a survey every year,” Hovan said. “When the kids first come to camp, about 20% say they might consider a career in manufacturing. By the time they can see all these companies, that number shoots up to between 80% and 85%. I think by the time they’re done, these kids have a whole different perspective on manufacturing, and that’s the purpose.”