Stihl Inc. hosts second annual Innovative Manufacturing Camp for local high-school students


Stihl Inc. Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp team ManuFit, winner of the Most Innovative Award at the competition, assembles parts for its robotic parts kits. Pictured from left to right are Mitch Popielec, Allan Wiskowski, Daniel Tamayo and Jonathan Jackson. (Photo courtesy: Stihl Inc.)Stihl Inc. believes educating the future workforce now will better equip young people with the right skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

More than 40 high-school students from grades 9 through 12 from Hampton Roads, Va., came together July 18-21 for the second annual Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp powered by Stihl, which took place at the company’s campus in Virginia Beach, Va. Designed to promote careers in modern manufacturing, the four-day, hands-on camp included tours of the Stihl Virginia Beach facility, full immersion into designing and executing a manufacturing process, including brainstorming and decision-making, business planning, process improvement, production planning, and quality assurance. The camp concluded with a competition among camp participants.

“Skilled labor is critical in our workforce in order to rebuild and reinforce America’s manufacturing base,” said Christian Koestler, vice president of operations at Stihl Inc. “Students learn by doing, and this event is a great way to help prepare the future generation of manufacturing and give them the tools they need to succeed.”

The Stihl Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp provided students with an opportunity to turn raw materials 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 to be used for 2013 Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Challenge.

Highlights of the camp schedule included:

Day one: Students were tasked to build an essential machine for their production system that week.
Day two: Camp participants constructed a manufacturing process for the different types of products each team needed to manufacture.
Day three: Teams received product demand and learned how to balance manufacturing operations to produce the required number of products during the two-hour competition on day four.
Day four: Teams competed in front of family, friends, judges and other guests.

“This camp was a great way to encourage students to consider manufacturing as a career option, and it challenged them to design, build, and run a manufacturing system, and learn what it takes to be successful in the industry,” said Simon Nance, manager of learning and development at Stihl Inc. and camp architect and director. “The competition gave the students a chance to bring together the skills they learned during camp and compete for a scholarship while also gaining valuable recognition for their own school.”

The camp culminated with a two-hour competition on July 21. Students were assigned to five teams that competed against each other in categories, including production efficiency, inventory management, quality standards and innovation. The “Wave Riders” team earned the top prize. Each student on the winning team earned a scholarship for $1,000 from the Virginia Industry Foundation toward a degree program or industry certification.

The winning team members were as follows:

Darwin Daroy, Salem High School, 11th grade
Jay Hefti, Kellam High School, 11th grade
Kenneth Kirk Jr., Tallwood High School, 10th grade
Patrick Lenahan, Tallwood High School, 11th grade
Matthew Piecznyski, Kellam High School, 9th grade
Antonio Robinson, Landstown High School, 12th grade

The competition was judged by academic, corporate, and community leaders, including: Christian Koestler, vice president of operations for Stihl Inc.; Captain Frank La Porta, Virginia Beach Police Department; Virginia District 21 Delegate Ron Villanueva; Paul Dockery from ECPI University; Jim Batterson, NASA engineer and STEM education advocate; Professor Lyle Cady of Averett University, Joe LaPlaca, plastics expert; and Rick Brooks, apprenticeship representative for the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Parents, teachers and other volunteers from local industry assisted the five teams of students led by camp coaches: James Adams of Stihl Inc.; Christi Wells, parent and camp volunteer last year; Scott Gambill of Engility Corporation; Brandon Martin of Norfolk Public Schools; and Kevin Pace of VBCPS-CTE.

The manufacturing camp is a collaboration between Dream It. Do It. Virginia, the Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills (VCATS) and Stihl.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *