Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Building their future
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Jul 29, 2014, 15:28

BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Teams work on creating clocks as part of a technology camp at the Industrial TurnAround Corporation in Chester.
CHESTERFIELD — Five teams comprised of 29 high school students, more than double the turnout of last year’s competition, participated in this year’s Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp, part of Dream It. Do It. Virginia’s outreach program.

The four-day camp, held at the Industrial TurnAround Corporation in Chester, culminated in a competition on Saturday morning, where teams were given 90 minutes to produce as many clocks as efficiently as possible using drilling machines, laptop software and paint to construct them.

Judges based their decision on a large set of criteria including the quantity of clocks produced, the total manufacturing expenses based on a predetermined budget for each team, the number of safety violations, how well each team worked together and shared responsibilities, the cleanliness of the team’s station after they were finished, the overall design of the finished product, among other factors.

The winners of the competition, this year being the members of Team Red, were each awarded with a $1,000 scholarship from the Virginia Industry Foundation to a secondary education provider of their choice.

Brian Jimenez, a rising junior at Prince George High School and member of Team Red, said that his team had to overcome certain difficulties during the competition, including a machine that didn’t work too well, and exercise speedy trial and error methods to succeed as a team.

“The experience was great. The teamwork was great,” Jimenez said after his first experience at the camp.

Jimenez said that he is currently debating between pursuing an occupation in either manufacturing or as an allopathic physician.

Todd Farschon II, a rising junior at Dinwiddie High School who was also on the Red Team, said that the camp was one the “most informative” camps that he had ever been to.

Farschon said that the camp taught him how to be professional, and “made me look at everything I do as being more important.”

Looking to the future, Farschon hopes to either earn an internship through the competition or pursue electrical engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Beginning on Wednesday and continuing through Friday, prior to the competition, students went through an instructional period where they were in both a classroom and manufacturing shop setting led by multiple speakers from ITAC.

Students used a drill press to bore holes in their clock faces so they could be later mounted to a base.
Denny McDermott, a director at ITAC who had a large role in last year’s technology camp, said that with a quickly changing manufacturing industry, kids need to be educated, trained and qualified in specific areas to fit the morphing workforce, and it is critical to help guide students into successfully receiving the opportunities and education to do so.

“The message we’re trying to give is ‘do something.’ ... We’re trying to discourage the option of ‘do nothing,’” McDermott said.

Students learned how to utilize a computer numerical control machine, which is operated through laptop software, to engrave the numbers into their individual clock faces. The table will shift beneath the machine’s drill head to manipulate the pattern and position of the engravings.

McDermott emphasized that computer interface is a critical and growing demand within today’s developing workforce, and something that “we need to draw into this region.”

Sidney Harrison, an ITAC employee who was a judge in the competition, spoke enthusiastically of the opportunity this competition provides for students, and that a primary key for the future of the workforce lies in getting students interested and trained in a skill at an early age.

With this in mind, Harrison said that too many college students graduate with a tremendous debt and no jobs, therefore one of ITAC’s goals is to help develop occupational skills at an early age and influence students to earn sponsorships into areas of higher education, thus alleviating some of this debt.

The Hopewell-Prince George Chamber of Commerce had a large role in organizing the camp.

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