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Introducing high schoolers to the world of advanced manufacturing can have significant benefits for both students and employers. Advanced manufacturing, which encompasses cutting-edge technologies and processes like automation and additive manufacturing, equips students with valuable skills that are in high demand. By connecting with high schoolers, local employers not only have the opportunity to identify and nurture talent early on, but also shape the curriculum to align with industry needs, bridging the gap between education and employment. These connections also allow employers to establish relationships with the future workforce and enhance their brand as an attractive employer, ensuring a strong talent pipeline for the future.

Recently, students from Noble Local, Warren Local, Caldwell Exempted Village, and Switzerland of Ohio Local school districts in Ohio had a transformative learning experience during the Local Argonaut Experience held on October 25-26. Hosted at the Washington County Career Center (WCCC) and the Swiss Hills Career Center, this two-day event immersed students in the world of technology, electronics, advanced manufacturing, and coding, leaving a lasting impact on their educational and career paths.

Keep reading for photos from the event!

Building a Future-Ready Workforce

58 students gathered at the Washington County Career Center and Swiss Hills Career Center to embark on an exciting journey of hands-on learning. Guided by JASON Learning’s National Trainers, representatives from the Appalachian Ohio Manufacturers’ Coalition, and the expert presentation of Warren High Senior Ben Bishop, students were introduced to TinkerCAD and Arduinos through the custom-designed “Building a Future-Ready Workforce” JASON Learning curriculum.

Using TinkerCAD software, students constructed simulated digital circuits, honing their skills in electronics and circuit design. They then moved on to build their very own Custom Designed Solar Tracker from Gearbox Labs, a computer-controlled machine that follows the energy of the sun. Through this process, students gained invaluable exposure and experience to TinkerCAD, Arduino programming, circuit building, and even drilling pilot holes with a drill press.

At the end of the experience, 90% of students had successfully constructed a working solar tracker. This is even more impressive as the students had zero experience with electrical engineering, coding, mechatronics, or circuit assembly prior to the Argonaut Experience.

Student Feedback and Future Impact

The impact of the Local Argonaut Experience was resoundingly positive. Numerous students expressed their excitement and satisfaction with the program, with comments such as “This was WAY better than normal school!” and “I have never done anything like this,” and “I built it today, and it works!” Students eagerly wanted to continue their work even after five hours of focused engagement with the project.

Linn Yost, Owner of Micro Machine Works, praised the initiative, stating, “This project is a perfect example of manufacturers engaging with students for critical skills we need to hire. I would love to see this kind of workshop be offered in every school district to help close the exposure gap for students and Advanced Manufacturing careers.” 

The Local Argonaut Experience has undoubtedly laid the foundation for the future success of these students, equipping them with the skills and passion to pursue rewarding careers in STEM fields. With the support of dedicated educators, industry professionals, and the collaboration of participating school districts, this event has ignited a spark of curiosity and passion within the students, paving the way for a future-ready workforce in Ohio’s educational landscape.

Thank you to the Ohio Valley Employment Resource, the Appalachian Ohio Manufacturers’ Coalition, Washington County Career Center, Swiss Hills Career Center, and the Appalachian STEM Collaborative for helping develop and implement this program.