National Park College's Young Manufacturers Academy Camp kicked off today with students eager to learn the nuts and bolts of the manufacturing industry.
Now in its fifth year, the camp will run daily from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Friday. The $69 fee charged to campers includes meals, snacks and activities for the duration of camp. Scholarships were available for those interested in attending.
Designed primarily for sixth- through eighth-graders, the YMA Camp's main goal is "getting students engaged at a much younger age and how that will pay off, because manufacturing has a significant skills gap and they don't have a lot of the younger workers going into that field. So this is an effort to introduce them ad get them understanding what type of opportunities are available," said Kelli Embry, NPC vice president for Workforce and Strategic Initiatives.
Today, the camp will feature a presentation from local banker Karen Kitchens about "financing, entrepreneurship and those types of things," according to Embry.
"The kids love it. She makes it very interactive and exciting for them."
Later in the week, campers will see a small, robotic Fanuc arm in action on NPC's campus, as well as a larger version during a field trip to Berry Global Inc. Additionally, they will participate in a partnered event with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions in order to learn how to "help eliminate waste, to streamline processes so you can save time, because time is money in a manufacturing facility," said Embry. "It's an incredibly important component of the manufacturing process to incorporate those types of time savings and cost savings."
A large portion of the camp will be devoted to campers designing and building their own projects.
"They're actually going to go through the process of designing and building and creating a project. So they will develop the project on the computer with 3-D modeling, then they'll take that and take it to machines and build each of the components, then actually build those projects. They're actually building their own robotic arms," under the guidance of NPC wood technology instructor Brian Charles, Embry said.
Campers will be able to utilize NPC Makerspace and its team, as well as the Innovative Tech Center during the camp.
On Friday, campers will showcase their completed projects in a competition.
"We invite all the parents to come and watch them compete. Then the students to presentations about all that they've learned during the week," Embry said.
Many of the activities at the YMA Camp are possible thanks to a $5,000 grant from Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs.
According to the organization's website, "Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs is the charitable foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International," with the purpose of supporting "individuals in discovering their interest in manufacturing and to encourage the pursuit of a manufacturing career."
Embry said that organization chair, David Brown, will be in attendance Friday to observe the robotics competition and speak to campers' parents.
As of last Friday, 14 children were registered for the camp, all of which were male. Embry said this was "very unusual," since there is usually a "pretty good mix" of boys and girls.
Embry said that keeping manufacturing professionals in Garland County is paramount and that YMA Camp is meant to aid in this effort.
"We want students to grow up understanding what's available to them when they get out of high school or college, because we want them to come home. That's one of the big things we've been working on with the other community leaders. We want students to stay here or at least come back here," Embry said.
"We try to get them to see it's not just the production technician on the floor. We need marketing, accountants, engineers, we need computer programmers. So getting them to understand the scope of the career opportunities, and specifically the opportunities that are here in Garland County."Local on 07/29/2019