Wilmington’s Mike O’Donnell Wins ‘Amp It Up! Challenge’ Video Contest

BILLERICA, MA — Students from Shawsheen Tech were recognized for their achievement in producing an educational video promoting careers in advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts on Thursday, June 1. Larissa Matzek, representing the state agency MassDevelopment, formally acknowledged the work of Sophia Ward, Michael O’Donnell and Madison Shipka at the ceremony held at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School.

These students, all currently completing their sophomore year at Shawsheen Tech, participated in the Amp It Up! Challenge along with teams from more than a dozen high schools around the state. These student teams were asked to produce a short video highlighting the products and work of local manufacturing companies as a way of building awareness of the tremendous careers opportunities in the manufacturing industry in Massachusetts.

The winning video from Shawsheen Tech features the work of a Chelmsford-based company, Aligned Vision (formerly Assembly Guidance). Aligned Vision is a pioneer and global leader in laser guided assembly systems used by companies in a wide variety of industries including aerospace, defense, and medical devices.

The company opened its doors to the Shawsheen Tech team, according to its Chief Operating Officer Matt Zmijewski who also attended the Thursday ceremony, as a show of support to these great students as well to help MassDevelopment in its efforts to promote careers in manufacturing.

Madison, Sophia and Mike each selected the electronics and robotics shop late in their freshmen year out of a deep interest in hands-on learning. In addition to creating the award-winning educational video, the students learned from the experience.

“It was amazing to realize that such a great company which does work all over the world, could be so close and so accessible.  It’s great to know that a company involved in electronics is doing such cutting edge-things,” said Sophia Ward, age sixteen from Tewksbury.

Mike O’Donnell, age sixteen from Wilmington, said the best part of this project was realizing that a company like this is here in America and hiring people from the local area who are making things that are sold worldwide. “A lot of people don’t know about companies like this,” he added raising awareness is why MassDevelopment has been promoting careers in manufacturing in Massachusetts for the past several years through programs like Amp It Up!

Madison Shipka, age sixteen from Burlington and, a member of the team, has produced videos as part of her volunteer hours at Burlington Cable Access TV.  She said it is not always easy to create short videos that tell meaningful stories. “It was a big challenge to produce this video, but I learned so much in the process,” she said.

Shawsheen Tech students benefit in another way beyond the opportunity to produce and share an important story about an innovative and pioneering company in the Merrimack Valley.  As one of four high school teams recognized for their work, the Shawsheen Tech team brought home a check for $2,500.  Ms. Matzek from MassDevelopment presented a representation of the check to the students as well as to Vocational Director David Norkiewicz at the June 1 ceremony.  According to Mr. Norkiewicz these funds will be used to upgrade furniture in the Electronics Shop.

And of course, the other winners are young people across the state who might benefit from learning more about great companies such as Align Vision and about the extraordinary opportunities they create right in our own backyard.

Shawsheen Studnets Amp It Up Ceremony
Left to Right: David Norkiewicz, Vocational Director, with students Mike O’Donnell, Madison Shipka and Sophia Ward. (Courtesy Photo)

(NOTE: The above press release is from the Shawsheen Tech.)

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