The Awards Gala for the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing student video contest was held March 8th at Mercyhurst D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. Winners of the Northwest PA contest (Erie County) were announced in several award categories, including the Viewer’s Choice which was determined by online voting at The contest received 37, 209 online votes over a 3-day period (Feb 26-28).

And the winners are:

Outstanding Editing-
Fairview Middle School (featured manufacturer American Turned Products)

Outstanding Creativity-
North East Middle School (featured manufacturer Seaway Manufacturing)

Outstanding Cool-
RB Wiley Charter School (featured manufacturer Onex, Inc.)

Outstanding Marketing-
Harbor Creek Junior High School (featured manufacturer Port Erie Plastics)

Outstanding Overall Program-
Fairview Middle School (featured manufacturer American Turned Products)

Viewer’s Choice-
Corry Area Middle School (featured manufacturer Viking Plastics)their video received 6913 online votes. They won by less than 100 votes, the closest vote count in the 5 year history of What’s So Cool to date.

Highlights of the evening included viewing of the winners’ videos, a special video message from Governor Tom Wolf, and inspiration from Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, all hosted by emcee Dave Belmondo of JET 24/FOX 66 and host of Made in America Made Right Here. Also attending to support the student teams and manufacturers were Senator Dan Laughlin, Erie Mayor Joe Schember, and Brad Moore representing Congressman Glenn Thompson.

Dahlkemper’s message reflected on her 50 in 50 project last year (50 businesses in 50 weeks). About half of the companies she visited were manufacturers and she noted how much she learned about manufacturing in Erie County, including the fact that many companies are quietly adding jobs, were built on a big idea, many are family businesses, and many are in need of workers ready and eager to learn the skills to be next generation makers. “We can make anything the world can imagine, right here in Erie County. And to me, that’s the coolest thing,” she said. (click here to read her entire keynote address)

Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC) hosted this What’s So Cool About Manufacturing (WSCM) student video contest in Erie County for the first time this year, but is a program that started 5 years ago in Lehigh Valley by Manufacturers Resource Center. The goal of the program is introduce 7th and 8th grade students to cool manufacturing jobs and career opportunities. The actual work of the 12 middle school teams began last October. Since then, they have learned about the video equipment, conducted onsite filming at their partner manufacturers, and edited their final video.

All of the Participating Schools (and manufacturer partner) include:

-Wilson / East Middle Schools (Smith Provision),
-Fairview Middle School (American Turned Products),
-Ft LeBoeuf Middle School (LORD Corporation),
-Harbor Creek Junior High School (Port Erie Plastics),
-Iroquois Junior High School (McInnes Rolled Rings),
-JS Wilson Middle School (Rehrig Pacific Company),
-North East Middle School (Seaway Manufacturing),
-RB Wiley Charter School (Onex, Inc),
-Saint Jude School (Industrial Sales and Manufacturing),
-Walnut Creek Middle School (Finish Thompson),
-Westlake Middle School (Matrix Tool).
-Corry Middle School (Viking Plastics)

In addition to the ‘featured manufacturer’ sponsors, the program in Erie County is supported by WQLN; Career Street; Merrill Lynch; Erie County Technical School; Marquette Savings Bank; Haines Printing; Lillis, McKibben, Bongiovanni & Co; NEFF; and McGill Power Bell.

Fairview Middle School and Corry Area Middle School advanced to the Statewide awards event held on May 2 in Harrisburg.