Manufacturing is cool again.

That was the message students got as 10 Pittsburgh area manufacturers were paired with 10 middle schools for a video competition. Students went behind the scenes to interview employees and learn about the manufacturing industry for the Explore the New Manufacturing Student Video.

The videos premiered at the annual meeting of Catalyst Connection, an organization which helps manufacturers grow their businesses, on Thursday night at Heinz Field.

In front of an enthusiastic audience of 500 manufacturers, parents, teachers and students, the following received awards for their videos:

Best Manufacturing Message – Avonworth & ARDEX Engineered Cements

Most Creative- Burrell & TMG Electronics

Best Marketing Plan – Mount Lebanon & Caterpillar

“The focus of our video contest was to get young people connected around the concept of what makes manufacturing cool,” said Petra Mitchell, Catalyst president and CEO. “This contest gave students a ‘hands-on’ experience into the world of manufacturing, showing them how important manufacturing is to nearly everyone, everywhere.”

Voting for the competition occurred over a five-day period and garnered more than 96,000 votes.

“America’s manufacturing future is in advanced manufacturing and in people who are adding value through unique skills,” said U.S. Army Lt. Dana Smith, advisor for National Manufacturing Policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce, who spoke at the reception. He told students that innovation is key to keeping the industry moving forward.

Companies that participated in the contest include: Aero Tech Designs, Pittsburgh; ARDEX Engineered Cements, Aliquippa; Auma Actuators, Canonsburg; Caterpillar, Houston; Hormann High Performance Doors, Burgettstown; Kurt J. Lesker Company, Jefferson Hills; Sarris Candies, Canonsburg; TMG Electronics, Cheswick; TruFood Manufacturing, Pittsburgh; U.S. Corrugated, Coal Center.

“This program was a great opportunity for our students to get an inside look at the world of manufacturing,” said Marianne Cibulas, a career education coordinator at Quaker Valley Middle School. “The time they spent shadowing Athena Sarris, of Sarris Candies, left them feeling inspired and empowered.”