‘What’s So Cool About Manufacturing’ winners announced

The Outstanding Overall Program award went to Lower Macungie Middle School, which profiled B. Braun Medical Inc.
The Outstanding Overall Program award went to Lower Macungie Middle School, which profiled B. Braun Medical Inc. –

The Manufacturers Resource Center has announced the winners of this year’s What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” Lehigh Valley Student Video Contest awards. 

A total of 33 middle schools and manufacturers from Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, and Northampton counties partnered to create videos that answer the question “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing.” 

More than1,000 people attended the awards event Tuesday at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. 

Over a three-day voting period, the contest, which featured two-minute videos produced by each student team, received 339,663 votes.  

The video with the most votes received the “Viewers Choice Award.”  

The winner was J.T. Lambert Intermediate School, which profiled Ultra-Poly Corp. 

Student videos were also reviewed by a panel of judges for awards in ten other categories, including Outstanding Videography and Outstanding Creativity. 

The Outstanding Overall Program award went to Lower Macungie Middle School, which profiled B. Braun Medical Inc. 

This was the tenth year for the program, which began in the Lehigh Valley and has since expanded throughout the state. 

“Ten years ago, we started work on What’s So Cool about Manufacturing. We hoped to engage and inspire Lehigh Valley students, but could not have imagined that millions would be interested in middle school videos of manufacturing facilities,” says Karen Buck, director of Workforce Initiatives at MRC. “The community has come to expect the information about careers and technology the student teams so diligently spotlight in their educational and creative media messages. We applaud the efforts of the 33 student teams who raised awareness about cool career opportunities and broke all previous voting records.” 

 Other winners were:  

Outstanding Editing: Springhouse Middle School – BlueTriton Brands 

Outstanding Creativity: Bangor Area Middle School – Victaulic Company 

Outstanding Cool: East Hills Middle School – ProtoCAM 

Outstanding Team Spirit: Orefield Middle School – Precision Roll Grinders 

Outstanding Educational Value: Nitschmann Middle School – ABEC 

Outstanding Videography: Northeast Middle School – Stanley Black & Decker 

Outstanding Outreach Plan: Saucon Valley Middle School – Kitchen Magic 

 Outstanding Career Pathway: Trexler Middle School – Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. 

 Outstanding CTE Story: J.T. Lambert Intermediate School – Ultra-Poly Corporation 



New lobby at Reilly Children’s Health Hospital is all about kids

Mike Pessina, Co-CEO, Lutron Electronics, Inc., cuts the ribbon on the Lutron Lobby at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital in Allentown. Pessina was joined by leaders from Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lutron, ArtsQuest and dozens of invited guests at the dedication. (Photo submitted) –

Lehigh Valley Health Network officially opened the Lutron Lobby of its Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Health Hospital at its Cedar Crest campus with a ribbon cutting Wednesday night.

The lobby is dedicated to children and was made possible, in part, by a financial gift from Lutron Electronics Inc. of Coopersburg.

The lobby features interior and exterior lighting elements, landscaping, an interior color feature wall, a  welcome desk with interactive LED play elements, family seating and a soft-side toy Jeep for kids to play on. The Jeep ties into the animal/safari-themed Children’s Hospital units.

“When children need health care, it can be a scary time,” said Brian Nester, president and CEO of LVHN. “So, we designed this lobby to help kids and families feel comfortable. Its bright colors, and its animal and safari theme help to ease anxiety. It reaffirms families that they made the right decision when they chose our Children’s Hospital.”

Last November, LVHN received one of the largest gifts in its history from J.B. and Kathleen Reilly. The amount of the gift was not disclosed.

J.B. Reilly is president and CEO of City Center Investment Corp., the company behind much of the development in downtown Allentown. The donation was given towards ongoing enhancements to programs, services and facilities of what is now known as Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital in their honor.

At the Lutron Lobby ribbon-cutting, Nathan Hagstrom, chair of LVHN’s department of pediatrics, noted since the Reilly donation the children’s hospital has opened a new inpatient pediatric unit on the fifth floor. It features 30 private rooms.

Also, work is underway on an expansion of the children’s ER from 12 to 24 beds including 12 pediatric observation beds for patients requiring further evaluation.

The expansion is expected to open in 2021.

Lutron names two execs to serve as co-president

Ed Blair, left, and Ramin Mehrganpour have been named co-presidents of Lutron Electronics in Coopersburg. –

Lutron Electronics, a manufacturer of smart controls, has named two men as co-presidents of the Coopersburg-based company.

Ed Blair and Ramin Mehrganpour, who were both previously executive vice presidents, have been named as co-presidents as part of the company’s development of its leadership team.

Current president Mike Pessina, meanwhile, will continue to serve as co-CEO alongside co-CEO Susan Hakkarainen.

Pessina joined Lutron in 1976. He was appointed co-CEO in 2015.

Mehrganpour has been with Lutron for 20 years and has held a number of leadership positions in key sales and business areas, including director of international human resources and vice president of global sales.

“His leadership, operational and engineering backgrounds, high standards for service, and ability to scale our business globally, positions him for great success as co-president,” Hakkarainen said in a release.

Blair, who has been with Lutron for 23 years, previously was vice president and general manager of Lutron’s business development office and senior vice president of the residential systems business unit.

He was also responsible for leading Lutron’s 2018 acquisition of Ketra, which offers LED lighting solutions to homes and workplaces.

Teachers working with Lehigh Valley manufacturers to learn work skill needs

Teachers at the Mack Truck plant (Photo submitted) –

A group of a dozen teachers from the Allentown, Salisbury and Whitehall-Coplay school districts will be wrapping up a program at Lehigh Carbon Community College this week that is helping them get involved in developing students’ interest in STEM careers.

Science, technology, engineering and math skills are seen as vital to filling the growing void in manufacturing careers and the statewide Teacher in the Workplace program is partnering educators and employers to develop curriculum that can be used in real-world careers.

The group of teachers has been touring a number of Lehigh Valley manufacturers, including Mack Trucks, Lutron, B. Braun Medical, Uline and ATAS.

“They’re physically visiting the employers and seeing firsthand the manufacturing aspects of the work,” said Terri Keefe, dean of employer engagement for LCCC. “Then they’re meeting with employers to talk about skill sets and what kind of jobs are available.”

She said the teachers will also participate in a STEM project that will help them use some of the skills that are important at those Lehigh Valley manufacturers so they can develop curriculum that addresses the skills students will need to get real-world manufacturing jobs.

The $25,000 to fund the program was part of a $2.6 million state grant from the Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program.

“This opportunity to connect teachers with employers in local manufacturing is a true benefit to everyone,” said Ann D. Bieber, LCCC president. “Teachers will have a chance to see firsthand the kinds of career opportunities that are available to students interested in these STEM fields. And employers can connect with teachers to share insight into what skills will make students successful.