Manufacturing Summer Camps: Inspiring The Next Generation Of Skilled Workers

The money supporting manufacturing summer camps comes from individual donors and corporate sponsors. Major sponsors include the Gene Haas Foundation, Amada America and The CNA Foundation.

Why would the charitable arm of an insurance company be a donor? It’s good for the company and its customers, too.

 

As the press release included below shows, Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs (NBT), The Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl., receives substantial support for manufacturing summer camps from its corporate sponsors. It’s easy to see why the Gene Haas Foundation and Amada America lend financial backing to the pool of grant money. The involvement of the CNA Foundation is a little less obvious but no less logical or compelling.

I spoke to Janis Allen, National Program Director at CNA  in Richmond, Virginia. She explained that Chicago-based CNA has long been associated with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) as a business partner offering insurance protection to its members and as a sponsor of FMA activities, most notably, the FMA’s Safety Council, which conducts the annual Safety Award of Honor program. “At CNA , we recognize the vital importance of manufacturing to the U.S. economy. This industry depends on its skilled workforce to make U.S. manufacturing companies globally competitive in ways that not only promote material prosperity, but also protect the environment and the personal safety of individuals on the job,” she told me. Ms. Allen added that CNA and the CNA Foundation see great value in supporting programs that benefit and enrich the lives of young people. “Even if they do not choose careers in manufacturing, young people who attend these camps will have a better understanding of the industry and greater respect for the talent and skills of manufacturing professionals.” The CNA Foundation supports other programs across the country and represents the company’s commitment to supporting the communities where its employees live and work.

Here’s a little more background about camps: Most (if not all) of these camps are the “day” kind—no overnight stays in a cabin or tent—and they usually take place at community colleges or local technical schools. Some camps are specifically geared to the 12- to 14-year-old age bracket, but others target teenagers who are a few years older. Typically, the camps involve hands-on activities that take a manufacturing project from design to finished “product” (something they can be proud of when they show it off at home). Many of the camps are designed to introduce CAD, CNC programming and machining, welding or fabrication. Tours of nearby shops and factories are usually part of the week’s program.

All of these camps seem to share the same general goals: to make young people aware of the importance of manufacturing, to make the campers interested in manufacturing as a career option, to show how learning about math and science is great preparation for jobs in manufacturing or engineering and to let the kids have a good time. One of the main lessons these camps convey is that inventing, designing and producing things can be fun.

Read the full FMA press release here.