OLEAN — Students who attended the Eaton Young Manufacturers Academy this past week got a look at some of the local careers and opportunities in the tech and mechanical industries with a series of field trips.
Now in its sixth year, the week-long project-based learning program from Dream It Do It of Western New York saw area middle school and high school students meeting with representatives from local manufacturers throughout the region.
In addition to beginning and ending the week at the Dream It Do It Center in Laine Place, students took visits to the Olean Municipal Airport in Ischua, Jamestown Community College in Olean and Challenger Learning Center in Allegany.
“This was the first time since 2019 that we were able to have it together,” said Evelyn Sabina, director of DIDI. “The past couple of years we were doing it remotely. We handed out kits that the kids took home.”
About 28 students attended this year, coming from Olean, Allegany-Limestone, Portville, Hinsdale, Archbishop Walsh, Cuba-Rushford, Bolivar-Richburg, Bradford (Pa.) Learning Center and Depew school districts.
“I kept trying to keep the numbers down, but there we ended up with more and more,” Sabina said. “I think next year we’ll have to do two separate weeks and divide them into a younger group and an older group.”
Sabina said the students not only learned about the different career opportunities in manufacturing in the area but a lot of new friendships from different schools have blossomed.
“I’ve been really impressed with how collaboratively they’ve been,” she said. “They’re working together and helping each other. We always mention that kindness and safety are the number one things in manufacturing, so we’re doing the same things here.”
At the airport, Chris Napoleon and Tracy Scanlan gave students some history on the airport and a science lesson on planes, Sabina said. The students also toured Napoleon’s plane and saw him fly it while Scanlan showed them how to be a marshal on the runway.
Two attendees of Olean Intermediate Middle School, Jahan Chahal and Dominic DiCerbo, were so impressed with the airport that they are saving their money to buy a plane.
“We have about $150 already and we’re looking into flight lessons,” said Chahal.
“We’re able to start getting flight lessons whenever you want, but you get your solo license at 16,” DiCerbo said.
At JCC, students worked with the robotics team under the direction of Tim Griffin. At the Challenger Center, students got to practice a simulated NASA mission with half in Mission Control and half in the International Space Station and then collaborated to make a paper rocket.
William Rothleber, who will be a fifth-grader in the fall, said he was a part of the Dream It Do It after-school program during the past year and had a great time during the academy week.
“This is like manufacturing and aviation. Dream It Do It was more like anything having to do with STEM and science and stuff like that,” he said. “A lot of things that have to do with manufacturing isn’t about handmade. It’s about programming and robots and technology.”
Along with the younger kids, several high school students in the Dream It Do It 2.0 group are interns this summer and took part in the week-long academy. Olivia Cook, who will be a junior at Portville in September, said it’s been nice helping students based on the experiences they already had.
“It’s always cool to explore new things about manufacturing,” she said.
Rachel Dyche, a recent Cuba-Rushford grad, said she’s been involved in Dream It Do It since seventh grade, but this week has been exciting to see the younger kids enjoying it.
“I think a lot of people like the theme of aviation, and they’re really grasping it,” she added.
Riti Anumalasetty, an upcoming junior at Olean, has been involved with Dream It Do It since 5th grade. She said it’s been fun as an intern helping out the kids as they learn about the things she’s been doing for several years.
“I loved going to the airport and learning more about the planes and careers with them, and then coming to the Challenger Center and helping kids learn more about aerospace,” she said.
Teachers Shannon Albert, from Cuba-Rushford, and Kathy Cook, from Osweyo Valley, also helped throughout the week.
“The airport was really interesting. I think a lot of the kids really enjoyed learning the parts of the plane,” Albert said. She said Cuba-Rushford provided transportation for all the students to the different sites during the week.
Cook said the camp had been a great opportunity for students to be exposed to the different careers and activities that they might not be aware of, such as the airport.
“I didn’t even know the airport was there, and it was amazing,” she added.
“Learning is one of our Eaton Leadership Attributes and what a better way to engage the young minds in our community,” said Jennifer Clarke, HR manager at Eaton. “We are so proud to continue to support this program and happy the kids were able to have an in-person event this year.”