Annual manufacturing competition modified during the pandemic
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Anderson County Chamber’s annual Dream It. Do It. competition will be modified because of the COVID-19 pandemic said Chamber officials. Instead of videos, four Anderson County middle school teams and two Oak Ridge middle school teams will create job fair pamphlets that capture the diversity of careers and technical innovations in Anderson County manufacturing industries.
The pandemic also impacted the 2019-2020 competition and subsequent awards ceremony. However, for their efforts, the schools participating in video, art, and web design competitions received monetary awards provided by Consolidated Nuclear Security. CNS is the managing contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to offer the program when students are not able to go off campus during COVID-19,” said Anderson County Chamber President Rick Meredith. “Our goal is to create an awareness about careers in their own backyards. We can still get students excited about manufacturing and expose them to the idea that there are lots of job opportunities and even careers in manufacturing using technology platforms such as Zoom,” said Meredith.
The Chamber, Anderson County Schools, and CNS partnered to bring the program to Anderson County. Area industries Aisin, Eagle Bend, Clayton Homes of Appalachia, Protomet, SL TN, and Techmer PM are ready to take part.
“For CNS, it’s about the enduring global security mission that dates back to the Manhattan Project,” said Kristin Waldschlager, CNS education outreach specialist. “We will continue to need highly skilled workers for our mission. Getting middle school students to begin thinking about those kinds of careers helps us all in the future.”
Meredith agreed. “There are many jobs in advanced manufacturing, and the initiative is an effort to acquaint students with these employment options. These are exciting jobs, and the students have an opportunity to learn what actually goes on behind the scenes. We hope it gets them excited about these kinds of careers,” he said.
The program involves a virtual experience where eighth grade students are introduced to adult settings. They will get a first-hand look at a manufacturing world they might not have considered as a future career. In April 2021, each of the six contest entries will be posted to the Anderson County Chamber’s YouTube account, and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite entry. CNS will provide STEAM (science technology, engineering, art, and math) monetary awards to teachers at Clinton, Jefferson, Lake City, Norris, Norwood, and Robertsville middle schools who win in this annual event.