CONFERENCE HOSTS: Madison Consolidated High School juniors Kyla Brown and Ben Cutshall welcome students from a 10-county area to the Dream It. Do It student ambassador training at the Clifty Inn on Friday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
CONFERENCE HOSTS: Madison Consolidated High School juniors Kyla Brown and Ben Cutshall welcome students from a 10-county area to the Dream It. Do It student ambassador training at the Clifty Inn on Friday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
They are students now, but before long, they will join the work force and tackle a variety of careers.

About 100 of those future professionals used Friday to get a head-start by participating in EcO15's annual Dream It. Do It. learning conference at Clifty Inn.

The program promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics - or STEM - and informs students about the modern manufacturing world through student-to-student and employee networking.

The training session changes locations each year. This year was the first time Madison was selected as the conference venue.

And because Jefferson County was the hosting county, eight local students took the helm as student ambassadors to develop the programs for the four-hour training session.

Before turning the program over to the students, Stephanie Weber, marketing and public relations manager for EcO15, began the day with a slideshow presentation that focused on the advancement of STEM careers. She also presented the students with company information at the conclusion of the program.

A group of local student ambassadors developed the agenda and activities for the training sessions. The events included a "speed-dating" segment, in which students formed into groups and then networked with other groups, switching every few minutes, as well as a social media portion.

Students from 27 schools and two career centers participated in the event.

"It's very student-driven, so it helps to have all these students from other counties to bounce all these ideas off of," said Jed Carter, a Madison Consolidated High School junior and one of the conference student ambassadors.

Carter said he is considering a career in computer science. Having been involved with Dream It. Do It. since his freshman year, he said he has been amazed to learn about the variety of manufacturing and STEM careers available in Madison alone.

"There are multi-national companies here," Carter said. "When I first found out how much opportunity there was, it was mind-blowing to me."