It is no secret that there is a growing labor shortage in manufacturing industries. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that by the year 2030, more than 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfulfilled. A contributing factor to this is that for quite some time, there has been this stigmatism that manufacturing jobs are: dangerous, low-paying, unattractive and not worth considering as a rewarding career path. Despite this negative perception, many of these jobs are skilled, safe, well-compensated, engaging, challenging, and utilize cutting–edge technology. The annual What’s so Cool about Manufacturing (WSCM) competition allows students to visit a manufacturer, and educate them on a potential career path that they may have not been aware of, or considering.
What is the WSCM Competition
The What’s so Cool About Manufacturing competition was created by the Manufacturer’s Resource Center (MRC) in 2013, as a means to educate students about the career opportunities that are available in manufacturing industries. The students—along with their teacher coaches—are assigned a local manufacturer, and tasked with creating a short documentary-style clip to answer the question of “What’s so Cool About Manufacturing?”. Prepared with video equipment and an action plan, the teams spend a day at their manufacturer for a tour of the facility, collecting footage, conducting interviews and developing a storyline.
Over the years, the competition has continued to grow throughout Pennsylvania. For this year’s contest in Berks and Schuylkill counties alone, there were a total of twenty-seven manufacturers partnered with twenty-seven regional intermediate schools. During the three-day video voting period, more than 190,000 votes were placed!
Viwinco & Governor Mifflin Students
In our fifth year as a sponsor and participating partner in the WSCM competition, we were assigned a group of students from Governor Mifflin Middle School. Last Fall, our students came in for a tour of our facility led by Viwinco President and CEO, David Barnes. The day opened with an overview of our company, and business model to prepare students for what they would see when they went out on the plant floors.
David kicked off the tour with a visit to the new Viwinco Glass Facility, where the students got to see our state-of-the-art automated machinery that we use to manufacture our glass units. Afterwards, the group then traveled across the street to our main building, to see our vinyl shop and shipping departments.
After the tour, our students returned to the Viwinco Training Center where they broke out for lunch and prepared for interviews. The students sat down with David Barnes, Zach (Manufacturing Director), Dave (Engineering), and Maricela (Controller) to learn how different backgrounds and skill sets contribute to a successful operation. Once the interviews concluded the students went downstairs to our R&D Facility. As the tour followed the production of our OceanView impact-resistant windows, and the students designed a story around them, it was only natural for us to end the tour with an impact test. The students gathered around the air cannon at our test wall, as we shot a 2×4 at the window to simulate windborne debris during a hurricane, ending the day with a bang!
Creating the Video
With the tour day finally concluded, the students returned to their classrooms, working diligently to create a compelling video for the competition. The video opens with a news broadcast detailing an approaching hurricane. However, the reporter onsite was comfortable knowing that he had Viwinco impact-resistant windows installed in his house. The video goes on to describe Viwinco and what we do, through a compilation of interviews and engaging b-roll footage taken on the day of the tour. The clip ends with David Barnes instructing a student to safely drive a shipment of the impact windows down south before the hurricane approaches.
We were blown away by the professionalism, sense of urgency, attention to detail and creativity displayed by our students and their teacher coaches. The video did a great job of telling a story while simultaneously teaching the audience why manufacturing is cool! On March 21st we attended the awards ceremony hosted at the Hilton Doubletree hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania. In attendance were over 1,000 people consisting of students, teachers, parents, and manufacturers. The ceremony opened up with our students winning the first award of the night for Outstanding Videography. Our students did so well with their video, that a few days after the ceremony, we were notified that the video was chosen to advance to the statewide WSCM awards in May. Out of the 27 groups that participated between Berks and Schuylkill counties, only four were chosen to advance!
Every year we look forward to participating in the WSCM competition. Not only is it a great way to get involved with the community, but it also allows us a chance to educate the next generation on manufacturing. We would like to thank the MRC for facilitating this program and the teacher coaches who went above and beyond while working with their students. We are proud of the hard work and dedication our students showed for this project, and are excited that they now know what’s so Cool About Manufacturing!