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Conference unites students, employers to highlight in-demand careers

Published: Monday, October 15, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Butler County Educational Service Center held its fourth annual Discover STEM Conference Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at Miami University Middletown.

A daylong event at Miami University Middletown on Friday aimed to expose eighth-graders from nearly all Butler County schools to careers in several fast-growing fields.

Butler County Educational Service Center’s fourth annual Discover STEM Conference aimed to spark student interest in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Students heard from 30 presenters from various regional companies, attractions and educational institutions via 50-minute interactive sessions.

The conference showed more than 630 students from Edgewood, Fairfield, Franklin, Lakota, Madison, Middletown, Monroe, New Miami, Ross and Talawanda school districts the wide array of traditional and non-traditional STEM careers and perspectives available for them to pursue after high school.

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“It’s an awesome opportunity because it’s difficult for a lot of these schools and companies to create relationships together where maybe they visit each other on a regular basis,” said BCESC spokesman Adam Marcum. “I think for us to get everybody in one room on one campus at the same time is huge.

“Having everybody here in a central location makes it easier for everyone to make the trip and spend the day with us.”

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Thyssenkrupp Bilstein demonstrated the dampers — also known as shock absorbers — manufactured at the company’s Hamilton facility and how it affects vehicles. Company employees allowed students to take control of a hands-on demonstration of remote-controlled vehicles with miniature versions of the product installed to illustrate the difference made by its products.

But the session also was designed to let students know the difference they could make for the company.

“The company’s always going to be hiring new engineers, and they’re also always going to have manufacturing jobs open,” said Josh Trump, a manufacturing engineer with its Hamilton location. “Our goal is to get our name out there. Not all these kids are going to be engineers. We have a ton of tech field jobs that are open, so when these kids are of age where they’re going to be looking for a job, we want them to remember Bilstein and come see us.”

Russ Melampy, who teaches eighth-grade science at Madison Junior High School, said the Discover STEM Conference is invaluable because it introduces STEM subjects to students to who may not be so exposed to it.

“We, as Americans, we really need this,” Melampy said. “Our country is falling behind other countries … in science, technology, engineering and math. It exposes are kids to things they need to see.”

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Fairfield Freshman School eighth-grader Jada Dace, who “definitely” wants to pursue a career in a STEM-related field, said she enjoyed the conference.

“It has showed me everywhere that STEM is related and it has showed me all the different career options I can choose,” Dace said.

BCESC is able to offer the conference at no charge to students or to school districts through grant and sponsorship funds from local businesses and educational institutions.

The conference also included a college and career Fair featuring STEM-focused local businesses and educational institutions, including Mason-based Rhinestahl Corporation. It allowed students to learn directly from industry professionals about what a specific career and/or educational pathway might be like for them, what they need to focus on in their studies to prepare and goals on which they must focus to succeed

David Romp, that company’s human resources manager, said manufacturers are drawn to such events because of a need to fill a talent supply gap.

“They just need volumes of people coming into the field but also there’s not enough people coming in that have the advanced manufacturing skills,” Romp said. “We’re trying to help close that gap but advanced machining today, advanced manufacturing today is relatively high-tech. You can’t just come in as a body. You have to come in with some technical aptitude.”