Shop Rat Summer Camp introduces kids to skilled trades.

Press Release Summary:

Funded by SME Education Foundation, Shop Rat Foundation 2011 Summer Camp introduced 29 kids, ranging from 6th to 10th grade, to world of manufacturing. Kids learned engineering basics and how to use variety of tools to make things. In addition to basics of hydraulics, aerodynamics, and power tools, they learned to read blueprints, use a mill and lathe, and build and race robotic vehicles. These experiences will encourage students to seek out further education in Skilled Trades industry.

Original Press Release:

Shop Rat Summer Camp Introduces Kids to Skilled Trades

The SME Education Foundation and the Shop Rat Foundation continue their efforts to change public perception of manufacturing by offering STEM-based programs.

DEARBORN, Mich., PLEASANT LAKE, Mich., - No tents, no water sports and no singing round the camp fire. Instead, twenty-nine kids - 6th through 10th graders breezed through a week-long summer camp at the Jackson Area Career Center (JACC) and were introduced to the exciting world of manufacturing at the Shop Rat Foundation 2011 Summer Camp. Funding for the camp was provided by the SME Education Foundation.

Today, nothing can be assumed and reaching young people at an early age, capturing their attention and motivating them to higher learning is the objective. This summer the Shop Rat Foundation kicked their summer camp experience up a notch. The kids learned engineering basics and how to get right in there and use a variety of hand tools, power and machine tools to make things.

For this group of students, the week-long camp was involving, team-based and unique. Using their hands as well as their minds, they learned to read blueprints, use a mill and lathe, build and race robotic vehicles and learn the basics of hydraulics, aerodynamics and power tools. Camp activities were supported by the Shop Rat Foundation staff, volunteers, and advanced student volunteers.

Following the event, the Shop Rat Foundation heard from excited families and friends of the students. Grandparents Steve and Harriet Videto, were clearly impressed. Said Steve, "WOW" comes to mind about the Shop Rat program. Our grandson attended and we already see a change in him as far as confidence and enthusiasm, not to mention the smile on his face when he showed us the project he completed. As a 65 year old farmer, I would have died for something as cool this when I was a kid!"

"The need is great," says Christopher Salow, chief executive officer, Peak Manufacturing, and founder of the Shop Rat Foundation. "According to Advanced Technology Services, skilled labor shortages will cost individual companies an average of $50 million over the next five years. There is a great need for technically-skilled workers in advanced manufacturing. We have found our program to be highly effective with these young people because it combines academic and critical hands-on learning."

The students had many different learning experiences. With a machining project, they turned raw aluminum squares into their very own dice set, learned to read blueprints, use the mill and the axis to mill out each side of the dice. In a welding project, they welded a dice cup to go with their freshly made dice.

For things mechanical, students were introduced to the Electric Wheelie Car. They learned how to rivet and fasten the frame, connect the electrical system, check the structure and test it. And then the ultimate reward, being able to drive it on the last day of camp!

In other projects, students used the Shop Rat Hydraulic Crane Kit and assembled their very own hydraulic crane robot, and using the Shop Rat Mousetrap Catapult Kit, students learned about bending, using power tools, and drilling and assembling.

These experiences provided students with the framework that will enable students to seek out further education in the Skilled Trades industry. The Skilled Trades industry needs Shop Rat types of programs to create the next generation of skilled workers.

Bart A. Aslin, chief executive officer, SME Education Foundation and who serves as chairman of the board of the Shop Rat Foundation, says, "The new normal in manufacturing might have a larger percentage of workers being highly-trained tradesmen. There are many students today, who when introduced to technical skills, find they have undiscovered talents and instinctual abilities. Eventually these skills will give them a chance at a secure well-paying job in advanced manufacturing."

Advanced manufacturers as developers and producers of high-tech, complex products, hold the greatest potential for creating sustainable, long-term economic growth, rebuilding the American middle-class. The SME Education Foundation, working with leading corporations, philanthropic organizations and educational institutions, has created outstanding partnerships. And, since its inception, has forged relationships based on shared interest in workforce development issues.

About the Shop Rat Foundation:

The Shop Rat Foundation is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization with a mission to advance the skilled trade industries by opening the minds of our youth by building unique and innovative projects from concept to completion. Founded by Chris Salow, a manufacturing entrepreneur who saw the need to inspire the next generation of workers, the Foundation was developed to provide hands-on educational opportunities to students who live in a society that is dissolving hands-on skilled trade education from school curriculum. Visit the Shop Rat Foundation at

About the SME Education Foundation:

The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, supporting and preparing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. For more information, visit the SME Education Foundation at Also visit for information on advanced manufacturing careers and, our award-winning website for young people,

Media Contact:
SME Education Foundation, 313.425.3300,

Note to Editors: jpeg photos available upon request.


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