December 5, 2013 — Richmond, VA — This week, high school students gathered at InSource, a leader in simplifying success in industrial environments, for a hands on learning experience with manufacturing.

“InSource hosted 24 high school students with no initial knowledge of manufacturing, nor the value it brings to society,” said Aaron Evans, Vice President at InSource. “It was exciting to see their minds opened and energized as a transformation took place in some right before our eyes.”

Students from Chesterfield Community High School and Armstrong High School through Change the World RVA, got hands on with robots provided by Virginia FIRST.

“We were pleased to participate in an activity that will definitely impact youth and change the way they view manufacturing and technology,” said Pattie Cook, Executive Director of Virginia FIRST, “Every hands-on and innovative opportunity to engage and inspire youth will, indeed, bear fruit.”

Students were presented a real life scenario, one that manufacturing plants face every day. The task was to increase productivity. The teams of students built their robots while hurdling the demands of data collection, quality control, marketing, financial constraints and time requirements.

As robots competed, students cheered on their drivers, who directed the robots to quickly place different colored balls into their team’s basket. Points were awarded for success and the friendly competition garnered experience and smiles.

The learning continued with brief class sessions about manufacturing. InSource discussed the breadth and importance of manufacturing in modern society. John Tyler Community College reviewed currently available programs and classes that lead to manufacturing-focused certificates and degrees.

The high demand and skills gap in many manufacturing facilities was reinforced by a visit from local manufacturer, Rolls-Royce. Students were well informed of their potential and opportunities that await them.
And after returning to school, the fun continued.

“Students could not stop telling other kids and adults how great their field trip had been,” said Jennifer Grossnickle, Communities in School site Coordinator at Chesterfield County Public Schools and event participant.

InSource continues to reach out to communities across the country in efforts to revitalize manufacturing. It requests additional recommendations for how it can continue to engage.