“Involve me, and I understand.”

For this week’s blog, SVAM is turning things over to MSI Workforce Solutions, the workforce affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. We welcome Melissa Lamont-Gordon, Dream It. Do It. Virginia Coordinator, as our guest blogger. 


“Involve me, and I understand.” 

These words have been attributed to many over the years- Aristotle, Confucius and Voltaire to name a few, making a case for Experiential Learning– simultaneous learning and doing.  Bottom line, people have noticed a connection between doing and learning for a long time- and- judging from this list of scholars- a very long time.

Experiential Learning Activities=Career Path in Advanced Manufacturing?


Building the future pipeline of workers was a recurring theme at the Virginia Chamber Economic Summit and a key focus of Blueprint Virginia 2025, which the Chamber presented to Governor-Elect Ralph Northam.   Our youth are the key to Virginia’s future success in industry. (December 1, 2017)

Why Experiential Learning?

The Manufacturing Institute, in partnership with the Student Research Foundation and SkillsUSA, released a report identifying the characteristics of experiences that impact student career choices. (October 23, 2017)

The study found that 63 percent of students identified their own interests and experiences as having the greatest influence over their career decisions.

“To help build the future pipeline of workers, manufacturers need to give students and parents more opportunities to experience innovative, high-tech and exciting modern-day manufacturing,” says Carolyn Lee, Manufacturing Institute Carolyn Lee.

What resources are there in Virginia?

Dream It. Do It. Virginia is one such resource.  With our industry and agency partners, we provide experiential learning activities through our Advanced Manufacturing Academies, Camps and, in partnership with the Virginia Community College System, Career Coaches.  Through our partnerships, we are helping to build that pipeline, one student at a time.  In 2017 alone, we reached over 200+ students in our summer programs and over 14,000 people have visited the free Dream It. Do It. Virginia Career Information System, which focuses on Advanced Manufacturing.


Student Involvement:

Bradley Holmes is a Dream It. Do It. Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Camp alumnus.  Here is his take on how experiential learning influenced his career path.

“I attended STIHL’s Manufacturing Technology Summer Camp (MTSC) for two years.  The first year I attended my team won the manufacturing competition held on the final day of camp. My second year I was in a “mentor” capacity.

The MTSC helped me to realize that I enjoyed working with my hands and opened my eyes to the world of manufacturing before engineering. It was fascinating to see the amount of technology that goes into manufacturing.  Prior to the camp I hadn’t had my sights set on much aside from “engineering” and it helped me to realize I wanted a career in manufacturing.  I ended up joining STIHL Inc. in 2015 as an Apprentice Mechatronics Technician, where I act as all-around automation maintenance (robotics, electronics, mechanical, plastics processing, etc.).  Thanks to the camp I’m in a position that is very beneficial to me doing a job that I really enjoy.”

Virginia Western Community College student Carolina R. is pursuing a major as an Engineering Technician.  While she grew up in a manufacturing family, she became really interested in Advanced Manufacturing through her high school CTE classes, where she met Advanced Manufacturing Coach Mike Howell.  He assisted her in obtaining a Job-Shadowing opportunity at Trinity Packaging.  While on site she followed a project engineer, toured the plant, observed the manufacturing process and was eventually hooked.

Carolina is one of a few women enrolled in mechatronics classes at VWCC.  Howell hopes that number will increase. His involvement in the schools as an Advanced Manufacturing Coach have allowed him to host a DIDIVA Summer Camp, introduce his students to area industry leaders, and facilitate other activities such as alumni visits and field trips, so students can get involved.

Experiential Learning= Involvement+ Understanding=Career Path in Advanced Manufacturing


Melissa Lamont-Gordon is the Virginia Dream It. Do It. Coordinator, and a member of the MSI Workforce Solutions Team at the Virginia Manufacturers Association.  If you are interested in sponsoring or hosting a DIDIVA Camp, or would like to learn more about our Experiential Learning Activities, please contact her at mgordon@vamanufacturers.com.

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