Robots, Machines, and Making Things: Youth explore careers in manufacturing at Manatee Tech

ODA student DeMarron Waters in machining
ODA student DeMarron Waters in machining

“They wouldn’t stop talking about it,” said Craig VanNortwick, father of twins Troy and Zachary, age 12.  “They were up early, every morning; they couldn’t wait to get there.”

The goal of the camp was to introduce young people to careers in manufacturing by exposing them to local manufacturing and providing them with fun, interactive and hands-on experiences in machining, welding, and electronics.

“I got to experience things I never would have otherwise,” Troy said.  His favorite part was welding; his brother Zachary liked electronics.

Students had the opportunity to use a plasma cutter, computer-aided machining (CAM), soldering stations, and robotic trainers at Manatee Technical College.  They were introduced to CNC, finishing, machining, robotics, cutting, electronics technology, setup, tooling, polishing, soldering, and welding.

Field trips to local manufacturers Safran and Sun Hydraulics allowed students to see manufacturing in action.  They also heard from some local experts and entrepreneurs including Colin Leonard, Ken Smith, Lincoln Bond, and Sarasota Area Manufacturers Association executive director Peter Straw.

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