Downingtown STEM Academy Competes in Statewide ‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing’

Mark Hostutler
The team that represented Downingtown STEM Academy during the statewide “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing – Best of PA” awards event.

Just days after industries across Pennsylvania entered the yellow phase of reopening, a pair of schools represented Chester County and Delaware County in a statewide student video competition designed to boost the future of local manufacturing.

Downingtown STEM Academy and Garnet Valley Middle School were the nominees from the Chester County/Delaware County region that competed last week during a “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing – Best of PA” awards event. Normally held in Harrisburg, it was streamed for the first time on YouTube with funding in part from the Chester County Economic Development Council.

“Today’s jobs in manufacturing are technologically challenging, and the result is a gratifying career path for skilled workers,” said Gary Smith, the CCEDC’s President and CEO. “CCEDC is focused on partnering with our region’s manufacturing industry to help to develop the next generation of workforce talent.”

Twenty-two teams from across the state competed for first, second, and third place after winning regional competitions for their two-minute videos with manufacturers on the rewarding career opportunities available in an increasingly technology-driven industry.

Downingtown STEM Academy competed with a student video featuring ONExia, a manufacturer based in Exton that specializes in robotics and automated machine integration. Garnet Valley Middle School competed with a student video featuring Southco, a manufacturer of access hardware products in Concordville.

First place ultimately went to Saint Clair Middle School; Reading Southern Middle School placed second; and Oil City Area Middle School placed third.

“Opening the doors to our local manufacturers is a powerful way to engage and educate on the exciting career opportunities available here in Chester and Delaware counties,” said Eric Stone of Genesis Packaging Technologies and program chair of CCEDC’s Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties. “These young minds will be the catalyst for driving future innovation within our companies. Our manufacturing leaders, along with parents and educators, are committed to exposing students to the potential within a skilled technical workforce.”

Manufacturing is critical to Pennsylvania’s economy, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the state’s total output each year or roughly $93 billion. However, a 2018 skills gap study from the National Association of Manufacturers predicts as many as 2.4 million well-paid manufacturing jobs in the U.S. will be unfilled by 2028.

In addition to Downingtown STEM Academy winning an Outstanding Creativity award during the regional contest in March, and Garnet Valley Middle School winning Outstanding Overall Video, the following local schools won regional awards:

  • Outstanding Team Spirit: Collegium Charter School – Teams 1 & 2
  • Outstanding Videography: Owen J. Roberts Middle School
  • Outstanding Manufacturing Message: Springton Lake Middle School
  • Outstanding Editing: Delaware County Christian School
  • Outstanding Poster Placement: Penn’s Grove School
  • Viewer’s Choice Award: E.T. Richardson Middle School

Click here for more information about CCEDC’s youth programming, including summer career camps.