The Sherman Economic Development Corp. is partnering with the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, which is in the middle of its third year, to host a mid-year celebration for the students in the Advanced Manufacturing Program on Thursday at the Sherman Municipal Ballroom.

The facilitators of the training course are putting together a banquet with several activities planned as a way to recognize the work students are putting into the program while also showing them what types of jobs they could look forward to upon completion of the program.

SEDCO Executive Vice President Stacey Jones said the consortium is excited to offer this expanded way of celebrating the AMP students.

“It helps get students comfortable talking to their mentors and prepares them for the next step,” Jones said.

Jones said when the program started in 2016, there were only 10 students from the then two participating school districts. Today there are five districts participating with a total of 79 students.

“It’s grown so much this year, we can no longer offer a free scholarship to everyone who completes the program,” Jones said. “The students now have to apply for the scholarship at the end of the year.”

She said those students wishing to go to Grayson College to finish their two-year degrees have the option to do so, provided they can get funding elsewhere.

Jones said last year was the first time the organizers offered a mid-year celebration in addition to the end of year one.

“We have had such tremendous success with the program, students are really getting out and promoting it,” Jones said.

One new activity that will be offered at this year’s banquet is a friendly competition where students will be given some sort of engineering project, probably something akin to Legos Jones said, and will be judged on how well they followed the instructions. She said it’s a fun way for the students to demonstrate the principals they are learning in the program.

Jones also said several sponsor company’s provided a tool belt with AMP-branded starter tools last year for the students as a way to get them started. She said this year there will be tours with various manufacturers before the banquet where students, their mentors and the instructors will get to see first hand what the students will potentially be doing once they enter the workforce. There will be long term and younger employees present to answer questions as well as to provide their perspectives to the students.

Jones said the students are excited to get out and use the skills they are developing in the program. She said part of the program is to get students out to see the facilities in person at least four times a year. This upcoming tour is among those opportunities.

Last fall, the students participated in a competition called Swap It Up where the groups got to interact with the companies in the community while providing for area non-profits. That competition also ended with a banquet bringing all the schools together.

Several area manufacturers have signed on to support the program. In addition to the dual-credit courses and hands-on training the students receive, they also get to utilize a facility at Grayson College that was constructed exclusively for the program.