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Tech camp could cultivate kids’ careers

DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — For an entire week, dozens of kids got to do what they love best. For the third year, Richland Community College held its Tech Go camp.

The free experience gives middle schoolers the chance to learn more about robotics, manufacturing and automation. It’s a joy like no other; building, creating, designing.

“It was amazing. I loved it,” says Sangamon Valley 8th grader Dominic Moran.

This week has been a dream come true for 30 area students.

“I bothered my mom a lot until she let me go,” says Argenta-Oreana 8th grader Serena George.

This is Serena George’s third year. Each time she says her robots only get better.

“It’s really fun to learn more. I love making robots every year.”

Next year, she’s heading to high school, but thanks to camp, she’s already got bigger plans.

“I’ve always really been interested in going into graphic design, but I was like, ‘I’d never be able to do that,’ but I went here and then I was like, ‘Oh, I can do it.'”

It’s the kind of epiphany camp mentors hope students make.

“They can make a career of it, ” says Richland Community College Interim Dean for Continuing and Professional Education Jeff D​avidson.

Experts say, in ten years, Illinois will have to replace nearly 30,000 jobs in the industry. That’s why camp mentors say it’s important to teach kids about technology as early as possible.

“There are a couple of kids who I’ve talked to this morning who I think could walk through an entry level job today. I mean, they’re just bright.”

Jim Nelson, of the Illinois Manufacturing Association, says with the right tools, the sky is the limit for these kids. He hopes the program continues expanding their minds for years to come.

The camp was made possible by the Swedish company, Sandvik Coromant. Thursday, it donated an additional $15,000 to the program for students who are interested in next year’s camp.

The camp is free for those who register on a first-come, first-served basis at Richland Community College.