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Since 2004, Bricks Without Straw has been helping businesses of all sizes, from small business to trade associations, in the state of West Virginia. We're committed to West Virginia, its people and the community.

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Case Study: Explore the New Manufacturing Student Video Contest


“Generally, the young people we work with have a limited scope of job opportunities in the world.” Monica Cross, program director of Explore the New Manufacturing, has observed this narrow perception about accessible career opportunities, yet she believes it provides a wide-open door for raising career awareness through a new and very promising Student Video Contest.

The contest is part of Explore the New Manufacturing, a broad program of the West Virginia Manufacturing Association (WVMA). It creatively exposes West Virginia middle schoolers to educational and career opportunities in manufacturing. 


A Contest New to West Virginia

The 2018-19 school year was the first year for the Student Video Contest, which brings teams of 7th and 8th graders into local manufacturing companies. Students go on facility tours and engage in conversations with manufacturing professionals. Each student team creates a video to promote that local company and its careers to their fellow students and community, who vote on the best video. 

The contest provides a way for young people to reach out to their own peers, which is far more engaging for young people than high-level corporate presentations. In this way, the contest opens students’ eyes and minds to the manufacturing industry and helps to build a skilled manufacturing workforce.

Tom Reed, program consultant to Explore the New Manufacturing, highlights the important research that underscores the value of exposing very young teens to career options. “This contest is a way to create awareness before students get to high school, where they start ruling out things that they know little about.”

Bricks Without Straw – The Value Behind the Scenes

The Student Video Contest was remarkably successful its first year. Ten middle schools enlisted approximately 100 students throughout the state, who partnered with 10 manufacturers. The students created 10 videos, and the completed videos were posted online. Schools encouraged their communities to view and vote on each video, resulting in huge exposure and 26,000 votes!

This success required expertise behind the scenes. “We needed to have a proper system so that folks could easily view each video online, and then vote for their favorite. It had to be done quickly and it really had to be a seamless process,” notes Tom. I was nervous about it, but Jamie kept telling me, ‘I got this!’” 

Jamie developed the website that showcased the videos and provided a process for voting. Monica was impressed. “He imbedded the voting platform into the website that made voting easy, while making sure that the way in which the videos were aligned on the page was fair to all the schools,” she explains. “It looks very simple, but that’s because Jamie did all the really hard stuff on the other side.”

Both Tom and Monica enjoyed working with Jamie and are grateful for his valuable contribution. “It’s very reassuring to know that if Jamie takes something on, it’s going to be done well,” notes Monica. “He keeps his work focused and simplified, and he’s methodical. Jamie demonstrates a very good balance between providing space for someone to make a project their own, and giving useful suggestions for improvement, which is really hard to do.” 

A Contest Full of Hope 

The Student Video Contest thrives on realistic hopes that are already manifesting. Rebecca McPhail, executive director of the WVMA, plainly states one of WVMA’s aspirations: “We hope that the video contest provides a fun way for students to learn about manufacturing in West Virginia, and that it’s a starting point for promoting careers in manufacturing.” Rebecca has high praise for Jamie and regards him as a valuable partner in the continuing success of the Student Video Contest.

Rebecca, Monica and Tom understand that middle schoolers in West Virginia don’t know much yet about their career opportunities; still, they’re confidently hopeful about the impact of the Student Video Contest. Monica sums it up nicely: “We’re able to change kids’ perception of where they live, and in turn, maybe we’re providing them with a more positive perception of themselves and what they’re capable of.”


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Bricks Without Straw is a digital agency and design agency based in South Charleston, WV United States and Ota, Tokyo, Japan.

We offer a range of web design services including: web development, e-commerce services and email marketing. We also offer a range of graphic design services including logo design and exhibition stands.

We love working with clients of all sizes in a range of industry sectors, creating and implementing inspiring and hard working concepts and campaigns for business-business and business-consumer clients.

Valicia Leary

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Carol Fulks

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Patti Hamliton

Bricks Without Straw is bringing our association into the 21st Century! He brings us ideas and innovation for our web site and other tools of technology that help us enhance our image and our message.

Rebecca McPhail

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Bill Raney

Jamie is one of the most committed and energetic professionals we have ever worked with over the years. He seems to work all the time with full 24-7 accessibility and immediate response. Bricks Without Straw has raised our collective confidence for maximizing opportunities in today’s world. We simply could not have done it without them.

Jan Vineyard

The demands and responsibilities to our members mandate that the online presence of our associations and our internet capabilities are reliable and seamless. Add creativity to that mix and one gets the complete package with Jamie Summers-Brown and his staff at Bricks without Straw.