When Ava Marvin learned there would be a manufacturing camp at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent for middle schoolers, she knew she wanted to participate.

She’s always been interested in engineering, and a few months ago, the Stanton Middle School seventh-grader started a cellphone-making business with her friend Zach Toth, 12, so the Makers of Tomorrow summer camp was right up her alley.

The new camp, held this week, is run by Roosevelt’s Computer Aided Design and Engineering Technologies (CADET) teachers, with help from conxusNEO and U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown’s office. Every day, campers work on manufacturing projects using the high school’s design programs and machinery and visit a different local manufacturer to see not only how manufacturing affects them every day, but also expose them to all the different career opportunities within the industry.

Like the high school CADET course, the Makers of Tomorrow camp was open to any incoming middle-schoolers within the Six District Compact, which includes Kent, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Stow-Munroe Falls, Tallmadge and Woodridge.

“We need to be reaching out to students that are younger to give them an awareness about what manufacturing is and what it’s all about, what design is and what it’s all about,” said CADET teacher and camp instructor Troy Spear, who created the camp curriculum with his colleague Jeff Bee.

To provide that awareness, the camp teaches students about the manufacturing process, although several campers, including Kent eighth-grader Parsa Khodabanehlou, learned it in previous engineering courses offered at Stanton.

“First you have to think of the idea, then you have to communicate with your team if its a good idea. After that, you write it down and design a model for it and then you go into CAD,” Parsa said. He explained that the CAD, or computer-aided design program, is used to create a prototype that is then tested.

“If the prototype works, great. Test it a couple times and if it works every single time, then you can make a real version. If not, you communicate with your team and troubleshoot, which means you continue prototyping and communication. You do that until you get what you want,” he said.

The campers used that process to create 2-D cutouts of different images using a waterjet, which the CADET program helped build in Tallmadge at WARDJet.

To create a keychain of her name using the waterjet, Ava explained that she first drew her idea, saved it to a flash drive and then inserted the flash drive into the machine. The machine then runs a program that cuts the image out of a piece of acrylic using high-pressure water infused with an abrasive, camper Maddie Baron explained.

Maddie, an eighth-grader, attended the camp with her twin brother Ben, who explained that they were also going to be creating a rook chess piece using a lathe.

“Most of us have designed it already. You take a block of aluminum and put it on the lathe. It spins really fast and then you cut it,” Ben said.

While mornings are dedicated to their own projects, the afternoons are spent taking field trips to companies, including Anderson International in Stow, ESTERLE Mold and Machine in Stow, KYOCERA SGS Precision Tools in Munroe Falls, Selas Heat Technology in Streetsboro and GOJO Industries in Akron.

Many of the campers enjoyed ESTERLE because they saw plastic trash cans being created.

“They have trash cans come out on a conveyer belt and we got to clip off the stem at the end and shave off extras and put a sticker on it. So there’s a lot of hands-on stuff,” Ava said.

The visits also showed her that there’s much more to a manufacturing business than creating and selling a product, and the camp has confirmed her passion for engineering.

“We’re able to show students that this is not the dirty, grungy yesteryear of manufacturing,” Spear said. “This is high tech, it’s really cool and it’s really exciting.”

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu