Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — It is a full week dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
For some local high school students, it is also a glimpse into their future.
Fifteen high school students from Georgetown County are not just kicking back this summer. They spent an entire week in June learning about STEM.
"To give students that exposure and those experiences that they'll need to be successful in building those 21st Century skills," said Pamela Vereen with the Georgetown County School District.
This Summer STEM Academy is a free Georgetown County Schools program that allows the students to tour multiple college campuses, like Horry Georgetown Technical College.
One of their tours took them to the new Advanced Manufacturing Center at HGTC in Conway.
The students got an up-close look at millions of dollars worth of equipment used to train future workers in manufacturing.
They also learned about programs offered there, potential salaries and careers in the field and the importance of theory and application. "I don't think they understood how it could be applied in the real workforce. So we emphasized that a lot. I think when they left, they had a better understanding of 'How can I use my STEM knowledge to move into a career path in the future?," said Jeff Ball with HGTC Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies.
Ball told us the manufacturing industry is changing since many older workers are retiring soon. "So many employers are coming to us now stating that 'hey, we need people to go into these fields', and its just the fact that nobody has pursed them in such a long time."
If students don't understand how the industry works, they likely won't be interested. That's why they say these tours are vital. "Some have had some a-ha moments, said Vereen.
Like Matthew McCants who's going into his junior year. He is already interested in the medical field. "I think that's what I want to do, yes that's what I want to do for sure," said McCants.
After touring the medical facilities and programs at HGTC during STEM Week, McCants was shocked at the opportunities. "I saw the different type of medical field options and everything else and was like, 'I could also try this' and I could also try that.' It opened my eyes to more different things that we didn't really hear about that much."
Which school leaders say is the point.
Vereen told ABC 15 News, "Seeing is believing from the standpoint of now that I have seen it, I believe I can see myself doing that. Its hard to say I want to be this and I want to be that when you've never even heard of it."
If those students enroll in the program offered at the Advanced Manufacturing Center, they won't have to travel to Conway.
The same kind of center is scheduled to open on the school's Georgetown campus next year.