Video contest: What's cool about manufacturing?

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This “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” video begins with a Northwestern Lehigh Middle School narrator holding up white- and blue-collar shirts, trying to figure out which he needs for a job in manufacturing. Both, he’s told. Then he tosses them into one of Ocean Spray’s cranberry bogs at a plant near Breinigsville.

Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. tonight, March 10, in a middle-school video contest designed to grow the manufacturing workforce of the future.

"Many of our skilled workers are in their 60s. There's no one coming up behind them. Companies are scared," Steve Jurash, chief executive of the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia, told a group of educators who met last fall to launch the "What's So Cool about Manufacturing?" video contest.

Want to vote? Click here to look at the videos. Again, the deadline is 11:59 tonight, March 10.

Middle-school teams, each sponsored by a local manufacturer, visited manufacturing plants, interviewed workers and officials, and made videos designed to answer that question: "What's So Cool about Manufacturing?". The teams have posted their videos online, and you can vote which is the best in several categories. The awards show, a middle-school version of the Oscars, will take place March 14 at Montgomery County Community College.

In this region, 14 middle schools in Philadelphia and surrounding counties participated. PTK Baler & Compactor, Rodon Group (K'nex), Philly Shipyard, and AgustaWestland were among the local firms that hosted student groups.  

The idea is to reach young people when they are making high school decisions. In the Lehigh Valley, where the program got its start, enrollment in vocational technical high schools has increased.

The same philosophy —reaching middle-school students — is at the heart of "Sharing Solutions: Advancing Girls in STEM," a program set for March 17 that is sponsored by the Agnes Irwin School’s Center for the Advancement of Girls and the Franklin Institute to attract young women to science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.