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STEM students tour Rock Lititz campus

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Katie Doyle, a mechanical designer for Tait Towers, demonstrates the Flaggapult 1, which launched her into the air several feet. She is watched by students taking a tour of Rock Lititz as part of a statewide STEM competition.
Katie Doyle, a mechanical designer for Tait Towers, demonstrates the Flaggapult 1, which launched her into the air several feet. She is watched by students taking a tour of Rock Lititz as part of a statewide STEM competition. - (Photo / )

Five Rock Lititz companies gave more than 125 Pennsylvania high school students behind-the-scenes tours of their productions areas Thursday.

Dave Lester of Clair Global explains to students how concert audio is planned using mapping technology.
Dave Lester of Clair Global explains to students how concert audio is planned using mapping technology. - ()

The tour was part of a statewide annual competition that focuses on exposing students to jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, disciplines.

Students visited project areas for stage lighting equipment company Atomic Design.

They also saw demonstrations by special effects company Pyrotek, watched a video made by audio production company Clair Global and toured the warehouse of LED screen rental company Upstage Video.

And live equipment manufacturer Tait Towers presented a pop-up stage used in the touring entertainment industry.

High school students on a tour of Rock Lititz on Thursday await audio and video demonstrations by Clair Global and Upstage Video, respectively.
High school students on a tour of Rock Lititz on Thursday await audio and video demonstrations by Clair Global and Upstage Video, respectively. - ()

The takeaway? Art and science can live together.

"Half of the STEM students said they were also musicians," said Rock Lititz general manager Andrea Shirk. "They get to experience this and go, 'Oh, it's cool that I can take something I'm passionate about and something I'm good at and combine them.' I think the whole goal today was really to show some of these kids, if you love theater or music, you love going to concerts, there's actually technical jobs that you can do to be involved in something you're passionate about."

The students on the tour are taking part in a statewide competition in which they work in teams to research, present and design a device or project that can improve quality of life for Pa. residents. The competition is a joint initiative by Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera.

The student projects include apps, a secure home-entry system, a fire extinguisher and solar panels. This year’s competition culminates with teams from throughout the commonwealth presenting their prototype designs at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster on Friday.

The tour was a hit with the students, said Deb Wire, a contractor with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

"I've been watching the kids' faces. They haven't taken their faces off of the presenters. I didn't even have to tell them no cellphones out. I can see they have just been fascinated that this is a possibility for their future," Wire said.

Rock Lititz may offer other tours once or twice a year Shirk said, noting that the campus frequently fields requests.

"While these are STEM kids, it would also be great to have at-risk kids be involved. We hire welders and machinists. We have painters, sculptors and artists within the companies. I think there would be a lot of kids who would really get a lot out of getting some exposure to what the industry does," Shirk said. 

Located in Warwick Township, Rock Lititz is a 96-acre campus that houses over 20 companies involved in the live entertainment industry.

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Shelby White

Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at swhite@cpbj.com.

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