Teens experience modern manufacturing technology at Stihl summer camp

CHAMPIONS — Members of the winning Hulque TOUGH team are left to right, front row, Stihl Inc. Coach Cristina Jones, Kiah Cyrus, Kena Gresham and Brenden Nieves, as well as back row, Branson Kim, Clayton McSweeney and Jacob Hobbs.

Stihl Inc. hosted the sixth annual Stihl Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp at its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va., July 26-27. The free camp — developed in collaboration with “Dream It. Do It. Virginia.” — promotes careers in modern manufacturing by giving high-school students hands-on experience in technology-based projects. Through an essay application process, 36 high-school students — from as nearby as Virginia Beach and as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio — were selected to participate.

During the four-day camp, students used Stihl components to build electronic strength testers. Campers worked in teams of six to develop technical, production planning and budgeting skills to find the most efficient way to construct their devices. Through this challenge, students went through every step of bringing a product to market from time studies and building electronics to ultimately marketing their products for sale.

“It’s a real shot in the arm to see these young people be so interested, so motivated, and driven about modern manufacturing,” said Lorraine Wagner, director of manufacturing at Stihl Inc. “There is a significant skilled trades gap in the United States, and as manufacturing becomes more technology focused, it’s increasingly important for us to grow interest in these careers. Through our summer camp, you really see the future right in front of you, you see what it has to offer, and it’s fantastic.”

On the final day, six teams competed to determine the best process to manufacture and assemble their strength testers. Each member of the winning team received a $1,000 scholarship from the Virginia Industry Foundation.

“All the games [sessions] were fun, and they helped us to eventually reach our goal with the help of the interns and coaches,” explained Kena Gresham, a rising freshman at Princess Anne High School and member of the winning team.

The 2017 winning team members from Team “Hulque TOUGH” — who built two strength testers — were as follows:

  • Cristina Jones — Stihl Inc. coach
  • Branson Kim — First Colonial High School
  • Kiah Cyrus — Green Run Collegiate
  • Clayton McSweeney — Cox High School
  • Kena Gresham — Princess Anne High School
  • Jacob Hobbs — Cox High School
  • Brenden Nieves — Landstown High School

The competition was judged by academic, corporate and community leaders. The 2017 judging panel included:

  • Stephen Ballenger, vice president of operations at Stihl Inc.
  • Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, Ph.D., president of Tidewater Community College
  • Wade Powell, president at Dale Carnegie Training of Eastern Virginia
  • C. Patrick Koelling, Ph.D., associate professor of management systems engineering at Virginia Tech
  • Vanessa Rastberger, director of Workforce Solutions at Virginia Manufacturers Association

The manufacturing camp is a collaboration between “Dream It. Do It. Virginia” and Stihl Inc. For more information on Stihl Inc., visit www.stihlusa.com.