Community Partnership

Manufacturing Yields Friendly Competition

With just a few steps inside the America Makes building in downtown Youngstown, it’s easy to justify why a partnership with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition makes sense. There’s a modern manufacturing atmosphere, and both organizations are committed to various adult and youth outreach efforts.


The collaboration started more than year ago, and recently, the MVMC had the chance to be involved with students in the Additive Edge program through America Makes. MVMC senior project manager Alex Hertzer did presentations for 8th graders from Poland Middle School, as well as freshmen and sophomores from Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and Valley STEM + ME2 Academy about opportunities in manufacturing careers.


He talked to students about jobs right after high school or using manufacturing to gain experience for a future career. Hertzer explained positions like welding, machining and robotics and how they range from entry-level, supervisor and engineering. He said some of the students were hearing about the positions for the first time and were amazed at how easy it is to get into a manufacturing career.


“The thing I tried to stress was that both skilled trades and college are great career pathways. I think it’s important for students to understand they can have the best of both worlds,” Hertzer said.


Before the presentation, students toured America Makes to get a firsthand look at opportunities in additive manufacturing. They learned about various projects and what they are used for in several industries.


Here’s the pitch
The Additive Edge is an entrepreneurship program students take part in for several weeks. It focuses on engaging them with education and career pathways in the advanced manufacturing sector. They work in teams to identify a real-world problem, develop a 3D printing-based solution, build a business model, and then pitch the idea to a panel of judges.


MVMC project manager Allison Engstrom was one of the judges for pitch day in early March. Freshmen and sophomores from two science classes presented their creations for the program.

She was impressed by a team that came up with an idea that affects almost everyone these days.


“My favorite was a group of young men whose product was a 3D printed phone case that would utilize solar panels to charge the phone,” Engstrom said.

Schools participating in the Additive Edge program can use it in a variety of ways. They can choose a daily activity for several weeks, once a week for a semester, or a bootcamp-style course that’s completed in one week. Teachers also take a training with an America Makes team member before the school’s program begins. Once completed, America Makes attends the students’ final pitch day.


Part of the bigger picture
Additive Edge is only part of what America Makes offers when it comes to education and training for various sectors across the country. Education and Workforce Development Director Josh Cramer says the “K-through-Grey” approach engages all talent nationwide for advanced manufacturing and STEM.


“That means reaching elementary, community colleges, post-secondary schools, underutilized talent and all the way to the Department of Defense,” Cramer said.


He stresses it’s about finding that pathway for a talent stream and making sure people know they can step in to learn at any time.



“This is where the collaboration with the MVMC comes in to ensure we’re here together to increase awareness and pathways to create linkage to local industries,” Cramer said.



He says there will be a $1 million facility going in at the Eastern Gateway Community College for added innovation. Work is expected this summer with the grand opening set for late fall. Cramer says the focus is about building in a curriculum. There is also an additive lab planned for OH WOW! Children’s Center for Science and Technology.


Cramer says there’s a constant need for training programs, apprenticeship frameworks, youth outreach supports and teacher education in the K-through-12 space.



“As technology advances, we’re going to have a need to upscale manufacturers and workforce,” Cramer said. “We’re all focused on wanting to make the Mahoning Valley a place to live, work and be successful.”

Community Partnership

MVMC helps build Valley manufacturing summer camps

As summer rolls on, so do different summer camps across the Mahoning Valley.


Among those are a handful with manufacturing- and STEM-based elements, in which the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition is helping.


“We have had identified several summer camps across Mahoning, Columbiana and Trumbull counties that attract a variety of students with the common goal of opening their eyes to manufacturing, and we’re thrilled to support them,” said Allison Engstrom, MVMC project manager.


Students have been touring local manufacturing facilities, listening to career ambassadors talk about manufacturing careers and take part in hands-on activities.

Starting the conversation early

So far this season, MVMC has supported a Trumbull County Technical Center  camp financially and Trumbull County Educational Service Center camp by organizing manufacturing tours and hands-on activities.

Students tour the BRITE facility.
Students from Trumbull County tour the BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren as part of a STEAM-based summer camp.


MVMC associate member BRITE hosted students from the Liberty Learning Center and TCESC summer camp.


“We had a variety of grade levels and they all enjoyed our lessons about batteries along with a tour of BRITE’s lab space,” said Joe Paloski, operations manager of BRITE.


During their visit, students “enthusiastically” learned about the company’s Wet Lab, Io Lab, microgrid and battery testers, Paloski said.


“They loved connecting the battery circuit to the motor to make it run. The kids asked great questions about whether we meet Elon Musk to cell phone charging and building RC cars. Their engagement made the lesson even more interactive and fun,” Paloski said.


Students from the Engineering Camp at TCTC were joined by City Machine Technologies’ Claudia Kovach.


She spoke to children and led them in an activity – trying to put a wooden skewer through a blown-up balloon without it popping.


“There are plenty of great careers that just require a little bit of schooling or a certification,” Kovach said.


“For so long, teachers and schools always say ‘go to college,’ and here at CMT, we are just letting the kids know there are opportunities in manufacturing,” she added.

Looking to the future

It’s one of MVMC’s goals for students to leave summer camps with an understanding of what manufacturing is, Engstrom said.


“We want to show the variety of STEM-based career opportunities in the industry right here in the Mahoning Valley,” she said.


The manufacturing industry “has and will always be important,” Paloski said.

Chris Allen of Ultium talks with students.
During a tour at BRITE Energy Innovators, Chris Allen, human resources manager of Ultium Cells, talks with students.


“It’s great for children to learn about it so they can appreciate the things they have even more, potentially even seeking a future career in manufacturing.”


These summer camps are another way to introduce youths to “grow in areas they already love or learn about an area of STEM that they’ve always been interested in,” said Shelby Russell, TCTC welding instructor.

Coming up

There’s still time to help with three more summer camps:



If members are interested in volunteering for upcoming summer camps, email Engstrom at