Every summer for 11 years, my office has partnered with local companies and organizations across Ohio to host summer manufacturing camps for fourth- through eighth-graders. This summer, we will host at least 36 camps across 26 counties.
These camps are an opportunity for students and parents to learn about the possibilities available to them in the manufacturing industry.
We came up with the idea more than a decade ago because for too long, when kids heard the word “manufacturing,” they thought about dirty, dusty old jobs, and the outdated term “rust belt,” that demeans workers and devalues their work.
Right now, in Ohio, we are burying the term “rust belt.” The technologies of the future will be invented in Ohio and manufactured in Ohio. And these talented, curious students are an integral part of that future.
In past summers, students in Ross County participated in hands-on robotics activities, campers in Geauga County attended an aerospace engineering institute, and kids in Mahoning County built model homes out of recycled material, experimented with wind turbines, and built their own smart clocks.
This year, kids in Perrysburg will take a tour of the First Solar plant, Fairfield County will host a camp specifically for girls in STEM, Ashtabula will host a camp focused on robotics and another on agriculture, and more around the state.
These are the kinds of opportunities Ohio students are going to have in our state and we need to make sure they’re good jobs, where people can build careers and see a future.
One of the things that I hear from parents and something that they love most about these camps, is that they help get their kids interested in careers in their own communities because students shouldn’t have to leave their towns or leave the state to find a good paying, rewarding job. That is what these camps are all about.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.