Swain students attend advanced manufacturing expo

About 200 Swain County students recently got an up-close look at emerging technologies at a manufacturing expo at the Swain Regional Business Education and Training Center. They were able to check out robotics, computer programming, a 3-D printer and other technology on display during the inaugural manufacturing and STEM awareness event — a part of the N.C. Manufacturing Awareness Week 2014.

“It’s really neat,” said Cameron Ponchot, an eighth grader at Swain Middle School, after watching a robotics demonstration put on by Mark Little of ConMet. “I’d like to go to a company like that. I’m really excited that Swain High School is about to get a robotics class.”

The expo was organized by Swain County Schools and Southwestern Community College and featured nearly a dozen exhibits from regional organizations like Google and Duke Energy. SCC and its partners throughout its service area recently secured more than $1.5 million in advanced manufacturing training grants, which will be used to ensure ConMet and other area manufacturers can train their employees on the latest technology for years to come.

“We’re thrilled that all these young students got a chance to see where manufacturing and technology are headed right here where they live,” said Sonja Haynes, SCC’s dean of workforce innovations. “Events like this showcase what our local businesses and industries are doing, and they allow us to demonstrate how we’re meeting their educational and training needs.”

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