Stihl Hosts Manufacturing Technology Camp

Free camp promotes careers in modern manufacturing to high school students.

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With a goal of inspiring teens to pursue an education and career path in manufacturing, Stihl Inc., a leader in advanced manufacturing, recently hosted the fifth Stihl Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp at its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA. The free camp developed in partnership with Dream It. Do It. Virginia. promotes careers in modern manufacturing by giving high school students hands-on experience in technology-based projects. Through an application process involving student essays, 35 high school students from Virginia were selected to participate.

During the four-day camp, students were tasked with using Stihl components to build “Escape Bots,” which are obstacle-avoiding robots equipped with infrared sensors. Campers worked in teams of seven to develop technical, production planning and budgeting skills to find the most efficient way to build their products. Activities included everything from time studies and soldering circuit boards to marketing their products for sale.

“The students demonstrated a passion for learning and great instincts for modern manufacturing,” said Stephen Ballenger, vice president of operations at Stihl Inc. “As manufacturing becomes more and more technology-focused, we are pleased to help grow their interest, change perceptions and put them on the path to success. We need people with a good solid technical base and that’s why we’re starting with students.”

On the final day, five teams competed to determine the best process to manufacture and assemble their robots. Each member of the winning team receives a scholarship of $1,000 from the Virginia Industry Foundation.

“I’m just exploring to find out what I like best,” explained Aniya Burnham, a student at Landstown High School, the Virginia Beach Governor’s School of STEM and Technology. She’s also a member of this years’ winning team. “It’s a great experience and it’s really fun.”

The 2016 winning team members from Team MotoRobotics Inc. – which built seven obstacle avoiding robots – are:

  • Tomas Franzese - Kellam High School
  • Joshua Bailey - Princess Anne High School
  • Aniya Burnham - Landstown High School
  • Kori Lea - Tallwood High School
  • Miles Abernethy - First Colonial High School
  • Alex Plutchak - Ocean Lakes High School
  • Claudio Cela - Grassfield High School
  • Mike Camp - Stihl Inc. Coach
  • Whitney Pendleton - Stihl Inc. Assistant Coach

The competition was judged by academic, corporate, and community leaders. The 2016 judging panel included:

  • Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, Ph.D., President of Tidewater Community College
  • Aaron C. Spence, Ph.D., Superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools
  • Vincent Gray, Ph.D., Director Workforce Solutions of Virginia Manufacturers Association
  • Shannon Kane, Virginia Beach City Council
  • Marc Wagner, Manager, Manufacturing Engineering of Busch Manufacturing, LLC