June 13, 2013

DEM camp a dream collaboration

The Daily Citizen

— For some kids, summer means sitting for hours in front of a TV or computer screen, but for dozens of rising middle school students this week has been spent learning advanced manufacturing skills.

Since Monday, the Dalton-Whitfield Design/Engineering/Manufacturing (DEM) Summer Camp has been under way at the Northwest Georgia College & Career Academy. Under the tutelage of instructors and educators from area businesses and schools, the students have been taking instructions on topics ranging from carpet design to 3-D printing, from robotics to rapid prototyping and designing with laser cutters in a mechatronics lab.

On Wednesday the students toured area carpet mills and related facilities plus Dalton Utilities to observe advanced manufacturing techniques.

The program focuses on creativity both in a hands-on approach as well as team-making activities. During lunch, which was supplied by the program, career counseling was offered to the students.

When businesses and education work as partners the community benefits, not only for the businesses which are building up goodwill but for the students, who get an idea of what may lie ahead career-wise and on which areas they may want to concentrate on.

Both are winners in that the camp may inspire some students to follow through with what they’ve learned and go to work for the companies that took the effort to get involved.

The camp ends today with a graduation at the academy at 2 p.m. The public is invited.

This is the third year that DEM has been held here, and it is free to attend. Presented by the Boys & Girls Clubs, it is sponsored by area manufacturers such as Mohawk Industries, Shaw Industries and J&J Industries, plus Dalton Utilities; retailers such as Lowe’s; and agencies and schools including Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Northwest Georgia College & Career Academy, Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and Dalton-Whitfield Archway Partnership.

We may not know what “rapid prototyping” is, but it is comforting to know that some 12- or 13-year-old now knows what it is and how it works and will one day put it to good use.