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SPARK Event Judged Big Success

Last Wednesday (Feb. 1st) students from Lincoln County high schools and middle schools and their parents got a chance to learn more about 21st Century manufacturing and the jobs that are being created by advances in technology.

They called the event SPARK. It’s a program designed to inspire students and their families to view manufacturing and CTE (career technical education) in a new light. Last February, Edge Factor, a Cleveland, Ohio, company that produces inspiring, high impact media to tell the stories of advanced manufacturers to encourage kids and their families to learn more about 21st Century manufacturing, partnered with the Lincoln Economic Development Association on a mission to impact the community, inspire the next generation at a live student event, and reach parents and families. It was so successful, they decided to do it again.

A part of the plan was a repeat performance of the “Fight 4 Doughnuts” competition among middle and high schools. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, parents, and students were invited to visit the doughnut competition website to vote for their favorite school to win doughnuts for every student. Voters could only vote once, were required to fill in their contact information, and had to complete a short, online, interactive quiz with questions about local manufacturing plants and opportunities. Based on the number of votes they got, the winning school this year, Lincolnton Middle School, must have got every student and relative to make that call.

Once again, the program was judged a great success. Dr. Cale Sain, Director of Career & Technical Education and principal at the School of Technology said he was very happy with the results:

“Lincoln County Schools is very grateful for the support from David Lee and the Bosch Foundation and the Lincoln Economic Development Association. With their continued support, LCS was able to provide a great opportunity for our students and parents to learn about careers in STEM and Manufacturing.

“Because of our eighth-grade presentations and the student-parent presentation provided by Edge Factor, more students are aware of our local industries and future career possibilities, the various incentives that our local industries provide, and the different post-secondary options that our students will have in order to pursue the careers of their choice.

“Our hope is that students and their parents will realize the potential for obtaining a great job locally but also that there are so many choices for students relative to the type of post-secondary education they will pursue in order to prepare for their career.”

David Lee of Robert Bosch Tool Corporation was also pleased:

“The responses from the students and questions posed confirmed Edge Factors’ ability to engage them on the subject. Bosch is committed to supporting STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & math) initiatives particularly at the middle school level to encourage and inspire them with the possibilities they can achieve.”

Kara Brown of LEDA, who delivered nearly a thousand doughnuts to Lincolnton Middle School last Thursday (Feb. 2nd), was also excited about the program:

“This was LEDA’s second year sponsoring the doughnut competition between middle and high schools in Lincoln County. It is fun to watch the votes climb and witness the rivalry between schools and teachers. It’s more fun to see the students walk in to school and realize they won when you hand them their doughnut. But more importantly, the competition drives parents and students to learn more about a career focus in manufacturing and invites them to attend the live Spark event featuring Jeremy Bout with EdgeFactor and local industry representatives. Jeremy emphasizes to his audience that things are still made in the USA with innovation and technology. His dynamic message translates the concern of so many companies; as baby boomers retire and manufacturing returns to our shores, the more plentiful jobs will be locally and across the country. Without the doughnut competition and Spark Event, this message may have never reached the generation we depend on for success.”

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