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Welcome to the STIHL USA Blog

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

STIHL Inc. Hosts Manufacturing Camp for Students

by James Adams, Business Resident at STIHL Inc.

STIHL Inc. believes that it's important to begin educating the future workforce now to better equip young people with the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.  Recently,  we hosted over forty high school students from grades 9 through 12 at the Second Annual Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp, on our Virginia Beach campus and I had the opportunity to work with them.

The camp is designed to promote careers in modern manufacturing and the four-day, hands on experience included a tour of the Virginia Beach facility, as well as full immersion in designing and executing a manufacturing process.  The camp concluded with a competition among camp participants.  

Christian Koestler, vice president of operations at STIHL Inc. attended many of the events.  He told me that skilled labor is critical in our workforce in order to rebuild and reinforce America's manufacturing base.  His belief is that students learn by doing and this event was a great way to help prepare the future generation of manufacturing and give them the tools they need to succeed.

The camp provided the students with an opportunity to turn raw material into finished goods using cutting-edge manufacturing technologies like computer-controlled machining and robotics.  Students built robotic parts including a chassis, printed circuit board and parts kit that would then be used for the 2013 Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Science Technology Engineering Match (STEM) Challenge.

I was excited to have the opportunity be a coach and lead and educate students about the process and business decisions at the core of a company.  

Though they were initially a little shy, the students on my team bonded quickly.  For the next four days the "Wave Riders", acted like our own manufacturing company.  At the end of the final competition, I knew we had turned out high quality products and had a good chance of winning.   In fact, when Mr. Koestler announced the overall winners of the competitions, it was the Wave Riders that took top honors!  

I think what impressed me most was that despite whatever pre-conceptions they might have had, all the students had a much different view of manufacturing at the end of the camp. They were able to see that while manufacturing is definitely challenging, it can also be fun and very rewarding. As you can see from the video below it was a great experience for me and for them.