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Dayton-area kids experience STEM at southwest Ohio’s first manufacturing camp

Anna Hartenbach | Aug 10, 2018
STEM Camp

Dayton-area kids experience STEM at southwest Ohio’s first manufacturing camp

Anna Hartenbach | Aug 10, 2018

Forget summer break. The Russ Research Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, in collaboration with Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office, got Green County kids wound up about engineering and technology last month during the southwest Ohio’s first-ever manufacturing camp.

At the Russ Research Center technology park – managed by Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology home to many high-tech and manufacturing companies – the campers experienced STEM via daily lessons, hands-on activities, 3-D printing and robotics facility tours, and mentoring by Russ College students, faculty and staff.

“Efforts like this, where we can work directly with middle and high school students, helps us increase their awareness of STEM-related career pathways – and it introduces them to Ohio University,” said Russ College Associate Dean for Industry Partnerships Scott Miller.

According to Brown’s office, Brown began organizing summer manufacturing camps across Ohio in 2013 to break stereotypes and show students that manufacturing is dynamic, challenging and fun. The office helped organize 18 camps in 15 counties this year.

“Senator Brown understands the value of the manufacturing technologies life-cycle ecosystem. He also understands the tremendous amount of good-paying jobs that come with this ecosystem, and that Ohio has – and should be – a national and international leader in these high-tech areas,” said camp director Rob Bondurant, co-founder and director of business development for the Geospatial Research Center (GeoREC).

Campers observed just those technologies by visiting Russ Research Center resident facilities such as Universal Technology Corporation’s 3D Product Innovation lab to learn about digital design, 3D printing and related techniques; KBR Wyle, to participate in interactive demonstrations of robot controllers and robot inspection of fan blades for military aircraft; and Materials Resources, LLC to see defect inspections of metal 3D printed parts.

Russ College rising juniors Aidan Crowl, an electrical engineering and computer science major, and Tyler Martin, a mechanical engineering major, served as team mentors at the camp, coaching campers through their design project.

“Watching the students experience the same feelings of curiosity, triumph and pride that once endeared me to the engineering profession reminded me of the reasons I chose to pursue this path in the first place,” Crowl said.

Many of the week’s activities took place in the campus STEM Outreach Building, home to local high school students’ FIRST® Robotics Competition Team Vault 6939, giving the kids access to computers, a fabrication lab and an equipment testing facility. Each camper’s goal was to design and build an autonomous vehicle, and program it to follow a line, which they demonstrated at the end of the week.

Martin, who didn’t have much exposure to STEM while growing up, said opportunities like the camp can make all the difference.

“By fostering a love for STEM at an early age, we were able to see the kids begin to believe in themselves and their capabilities,” Martin said.

According to Miller, the volunteers, students, partners, and faculty and staff made the event a success.

“It was a true team effort. We’re already looking forward to expanding our camp offerings and partnering with other organizations to host additional STEM-related camps next year,” he said.