Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced new funding to expand the statewide What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? student video contest. The grants were approved for the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) in the Lehigh Valley and the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC).

“This administration has placed an incredible emphasis on developing Pennsylvania’s manufacturing workforce,” Governor Wolf said. “One of the best ways to do that is by getting the next generation excited about these careers. The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? student video contest has steadily grown over the years. We’re excited to see it continue to grow in the years ahead supported by this funding.”

The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contest is dedicated to changing perceptions and attitudes in Pennsylvania about advanced manufacturing careers. The contest pairs teams of middle school students with local manufacturers. The student teams then create a video profile that shows what the manufacturers produce, how they make their products, and why the manufacturer is a great place to work. The contest grew from only one contest in the Lehigh Valley to a series of 15 contests statewide in this upcoming year. These new grants will provide $134,200 to DVIRC and $169,000 to MRC to further expand the contest to more schools, more students, and more manufacturers in the years ahead.

“The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? competition is a unique way to simultaneously promote the value of STEM education and the exciting future of manufacturing to the region,” said Barry Miller, President and CEO of DVIRC. “We’re really excited to be able to expand the contest and reach so many young people, who are the future of modern manufacturing in the Philadelphia area. The response of educators and manufacturers to this program is outstanding.”

“The students and their teachers put an amazing amount of work into their projects, meeting with manufacturers, filming and editing their videos,” said Jack Pfunder, President and CEO of MRC. “The success of this program across the state of Pennsylvania, and the country, validates its design, which is to raise awareness about manufacturing career opportunities for our students.”

Funding was provided from the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Training-to-Career grant. The Training-to-Career grant is one of three components of Governor Wolf’s Manufacturing PA initiative, along with Industrial Resource Centers and the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Innovation Program, that was launched in October 2017. This initiative ensures that training leads not simply to any job, but to careers that provide higher pay and opportunities for advancement. Working with DCED’s strategic partners, including Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs), Pennsylvania’s colleges, universities, technical schools, and non-profit organizations, this initiative fosters collaboration and partnerships to accelerate technology advancement, encourage innovation and commercialization, and build a 21st century workforce.

The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contest also aligns with Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, which invests $30 million to build the next generation of Pennsylvania’s workforce. The initiative includes $20 million for expanding STEM and computer science education and $7 million for supporting apprenticeships across the commonwealth.

The annual What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contests excite students to explore cool manufacturing careers and produce profiles of companies throughout Pennsylvania. Judges in each regional contest bestow a variety of awards, and each contest features an online vote at for its Viewers Choice Award. Created by the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) in Allentown, PA in 2013, the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contests draw entries from teams across Pennsylvania. The teams of students and teacher coaches receive camera equipment, software, and professional guidance as they learn to script, record, and edit their video stories. The contest’s objective is to change students’ perceptions about manufacturing careers.

The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contests are supported regionally by their sponsors and partners. Production support is provided for several of the contests by eMediaWorks in Center Valley, PA, and additional partners. There are 16 regional contests scheduled in Pennsylvania for the 2018-2019 school year. The contest format also has been adopted by groups in 11 additional states.
News Story Contact
Karen Buck, Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC)
Allentown, PA, 610.628.4626
Photo from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania