Skills for Their Resume (No Matter the Age)

“I first tried banana slices, but realized marshmallows work better as buttons,” said fourth grader Drew Herby when describing the game controller he built at last year’s Rutherford Works Summer Camp, in which campers paired simple grocery items with a mini-computer to program a video game “app.” Though bananas and marshmallows do not initially sound like high-tech computing or engineering, if one looks closer, it is evident Drew used problem solving and critical thinking skills, all while learning how to code with MIT’s Scratch coding platform. 

Throughout the month of June, students like Drew will again have the opportunity to develop the skills many jobs of the future will require. Rutherford Works, the economic development arm of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, is excited to facilitate camps that inspire students to explore careers in the growing industry sectors of Information Technology (IT) and Supply Chain Management. With IT jobs expected to grow by 28% and supply chain jobs expected to grow by 16% in Rutherford County by year 2024, students can get a jump start toward a high wage, high demand career this summer.

For instance, seventh grader Mia Finley learned how to program robots on the same platform used by computer scientists and engineers. “The coding language gives robots tasks to perform,” she says, “Last year, we programmed our robot to pick up and shoot balls during a competition.” Finley, who aims to be a biomedical engineer, says opportunities like the Rutherford Works Summer Camp helped her realize what she is interested in doing when she grows up.

Gregg Marsh, Director of Information Technology at HCA TriStar Division – Stonecrest Medical, serves on the Rutherford Works Tech Community council and speaks to the importance of early career exploration, particularly in tech-related jobs. “Exposure in elementary, middle, and high school opens the student up to unlimited job positions,” he says. “As technology continues to increase, there are job roles that come along no one may have heard about yet. One generation back, no one heard of a Social Media Market Analyst and surely no one would not have imagined making a living as a YouTuber. Early exposure has the student seeing and thinking of what might be possible as they grow up to find their skill.”

Similarly, early exposure to Supply Chain Management jobs will help students secure a job within a high demand, high wage field. Brandon Mabry with Nissan North America, explains, “A person could work anywhere in America and supply chain is involved; there is something in every company that deals with supply chain. You cannot send or receive anything without supply chain being involved. No business works without materials.”

The Rutherford Works Summer Camps not only provide students with the skills and technology to build upon knowledge even after the camp, but also serve as a direct marketing tool for the Information Technology or Supply Chain Management Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs of study within Rutherford County high schools. Whereas in previous years a student would have been encouraged to enroll in the “technical track” or “college track” in high school, Rutherford County School students today must select a college & career ready program of study when entering their ninth grade year.

Information Technology programs of study are available at Blackman, LaVergne, and Stewarts Creek High Schools. The brand new Supply Chain Program of Study will be unveiled at Blackman and Stewarts Creek High Schools in Fall 2018 (See bit.ly/RWsupplychain).
While the camps are geared to prepare young people for the workforce of the next generation, rest assured no prior experience is necessary.

“If your kid is interested in building, mechanics, how things work, computer programming, or if they just want to know if they will like it or not, these camps would be a good fit,” says 2017 camper Mia Finley. “Last year, there were several kids who had never done anything like this before and they caught on pretty quickly.”

Each technology camp will provide campers with coding and engineering basics, as well as technology that students will learn at the camp and take home after, such as Little Bits TM, LEGO WeDo TM, Audrino TM, Micro:Bit TM, Arduino TM, and SpheroMini TM.

The all-new “Buy It, Make It, Move It, Sell It” camp will allow students to see how Supply Chain Management is responsible for everything around us, from the bottled water we drink to the phone we carry in our hands. Through hands-on workshops and industry tours at Nissan, Schwan Cosmetics, Yoplait, Ingram Content Group, and Schneider Electric, campers will dive into the business world to learn “how it’s made” through Supply Chain Management concepts.
The Rutherford Works Summer Camps are available for elementary, middle, and high school students. No prior experience is needed. Courses are taught by experienced educators from right here in Rutherford County who are passionate about helping students expand their knowledge, understanding, and interests. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER, VISIT www.bit.ly/RWsummercamp.com