Three Rotary Clubs  - Morrison Rotary, Rock Falls Rotary, and Sterling Noon Rotary - joined with partner Whiteside County Economic Development to provide an opportunity for students aged 12 – 16 to experience manufacturing in the area.  All three Rotary Clubs applied for a matching grant from Rotary District 6420 to fund this summer program.  Each club contributed $1,000 and received a matching grant from Rotary District 6420 for another $1000 for a total donation/club of $2,000.  Its purpose was to expose area students to the world of manufacturing, to learn of careers and training in the area by visiting off-site facilities, and actually experience manufacturing as a possible career in the area.  Hands-on projects of manufacturing products would teach the students skills and allow them to experience manufacturing from design to production.  Whiteside Area Career Center would provide the program to meet these goals.  Their professional manufacturing instructors, Steve Bierdeman and Bill Hare, would deliver the program which had been discussed and approved by the three Rotary Clubs before the grant was even applied for.  The value of keeping students in manufacturing jobs in the area was one of the main purposes for this summer camp experience.
The Cool Manufacturing & Technology Summer Camp is a great example of the community identifying the skills gap as a national problem, and acting locally to meet the challenge.  The Cool Manufacturing Summer Camp, The Whiteside Area Career Center, the CEO program, the Multicraft Extended Internship Program, the Innovation Center at Morrison Tech, and other programs are examples of the community doing something about a problem and not waiting for someone else to do it. These are positive long-term steps we are taking locally and it does contribute to the overall vitality of the region.
Publicity was distributed as a flier to the 17 member school districts which are partner members in the WACC.  Local news media was also used to create awareness.  Woodlawn Arts Academy also distributed fliers to students aged 12 – 16.  The class would meet Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – noon June 17 through June 27.   The maximum number of participants for the summer camp was set at 20 and 14 students were enrolled.
Four projects were to be the experience of hands-on production:  a birdhouse, a wooden valet tray for jewelry, and a baseball bat shaped stand for name cards as projects using wood as the medium, and an I-phone holder using pipe which would teach skills in working with metal.  All would allow students to design their project and then make it truly their own creation.  Each project would allow students to use a variety of manufacturing machines.  The best part of the experience would be that each had handmade projects to keep as their own or to give as a gift.
Bill Hare shared that students found the experiences to be eye-opening.  One of them made the statement, “I can’t wait to come back again next year.”  Josh Johnson, Director of WACC, said that there is definitely interest in continuing this summer program with the possibility of perhaps adding the building trades and auto mechanics areas in a third week of a summer camp.
Three Rotary Clubs Presidents (left to right)– Sterling Noon’s President John Gvozdjak, Rock Falls’ President Dave Chavira, Morrison’s President Mick Welding - and Gary Camarano of Whiteside County Economic Development organization present a check for $8000 to Josh Johnson, Director of WACC and Jerry Binder, Administrator at WACC.  Each organization supported the Manufacturing and Technology Summer Camp program in June for students aged 12 – 16 which was delivered through WACC.
Bill Hare, Instructor at WACC, displays several of the projects which students completed in the Manufacturing and Technology Summer Camp at WACC in June:  two wooden projects – a baseball shaped name card holder and a jewelry valet tray - and  a metal project using pipe to create an I-phone holder.