Inspiring the next generation


For the 12th summer in a row, my office is partnering with local businesses and other organizations to host Summer Manufacturing Camps for students across Ohio.

We came up with the idea for the camps more than a decade ago to introduce young Ohioans to American manufacturing happening in their communities, and show them all the opportunities available. We’ve built up the program over the years, and this summer we’ll host at least 51 camps across 29 counties. Some are already happening.

These camps allow children and teens to learn about careers in their communities, tour local manufacturing facilities, and learn from experts. Students learn how products are made, participate in team-building exercises, and often work on a project specific to their community.

In Wood County, we’re partnering with First Solar – the largest solar manufacturer in the country – to show students the how the technologies of the future are being made in their backyards. In Mahoning County, campers will explore drone technology. And in Columbus, we’re working with My Brother’s Keeper – the mentorship program focused on creating opportunities for young boys and men of color – to reach even more students.

Last week I visited a camp in Akron where middle-schoolers were creating digital designs, and then learning to use machines to engrave those designs on dog-tags. They showed me the projects they were working on, and some even shared their aspirations to pursue a career in manufacturing.

That’s what these camps are all about – showing the next generation all the opportunities available to them here in Ohio. Parents often tell me that these camps help their children realize that they don’t have to leave town or leave the state to have a good-paying, rewarding career.

It’s all part of our work to bury the outdated and offensive term “rust belt” that demeans our workers and devalues their work.

Ohio workers are inventing and building the technologies of the future. Every year at our Manufacturing Camps, these curious and talented students discover they can be the scientists, or mechanics, or carpenters, or welders of the future that will continue our state’s manufacturing leadership for years to come.

For more information and to find a camp in your community, visit:

The writer is a U.S. senator from Ohio.

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