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SPARK Session At Citizens Center Draws Big Crowd

Authored by: Wayne Howard & Stacy Speckman w/photos by Jessica Speckman, Lincoln Herald

For those who are not familiar, the currently popular term STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education.

Tuesday (Feb. 9th) was an important STEM day for CTE (another acronym–career technology education) students. Both middle and high school students took a field trip during the day and their parents were invited to attend a presentation Tuesday night at the James W. Warren Citizens Center arranged by Kara Brown of the Lincoln Economic Development Association working with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

The program, known as Edge Factor, is designed to spread the word through film and story-telling about careers in manufacturing. Sessions such as the one in Lincolnton on Tuesday night are called SPARK sessions because they are designed to ignite an interest in manufacturing careers. An important part of the presentation is to dispel the idea that manufacturing jobs are boring, repetitive, and less desirable than some other careers.

As one plant manager put it, “manufacturing today has very little in common with your granddaddy’s job in the mill.”

To encourage participation, students were invited to vote for their school to win doughnuts to be delivered on Wednesday (Feb. 10th). West Lincoln High School with 1169 votes was the winner. Other prizes were given away at the event including Carowinds passes, tickets to the Coca Cola 600, and others.

After they enjoyed pizza and other refreshments, those attending Tuesday night listened as film director Jeremy Bout told success stories about how kids and young adults started their careers in hands-on manufacturing jobs.

Kara Brown and Cliff Brumfield of LEDA spoke with the Lincoln Herald after the event, telling us that manufacturing jobs are abundant and offer an excellent opportunity for those who choose to get started on a career. Brumfield noted that 60% of high school graduates are going to college only to be graduating into an economy with opportunities for only 30% of those college graduates, while 60% of the jobs are in manufacturing only need an associate degree.

“Jobs that use your hands, doesn’t mean you don’t use your mind,” Brumfield said, “there are many opportunities for high paying jobs in manufacturing, and many local manufacturing companies are willing to fully pay for schooling for their employees.”

As one attendee told us, “As a parent, and wife to a craftsman, it was important to expose the youth to this event. We emphasize success with our kids and there is a world of careers out there for many interests. Furthermore, without the youth training and working in these careers, the trades will die. America’s success, and our local economy’s, is keeping these ideas and jobs in our country and so many can be a part of this growth.”