For the third year, Manufacturing Engineering is proud to celebrate 30 young people under the age of 30 who have demonstrated exceptional talent and leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics—fields that are essential underpinnings to a career in manufacturing. These young people have taken the road less traveled, and we applaud them for it.
As this nation tries to encourage more students to develop their STEM prowess, and embark on a career in manufacturing, we at Manufacturing Engineering have learned some valuable lessons in talking to these young students and professionals.
Foremost, when a young person makes a decision to pursue a path of study or a career in STEM, they are making a conscious decision to be challenged.
That’s because STEM fields are among the most demanding out there. And sure, some people may be born with natural talent in these areas. But a lot of students and young professionals who enter a STEM field report that they have to work really, really hard at it. Some say they were initially interested in, say, science or technology, but had to work really hard at math. Or vice versa. In any case, it involves hard work. And when society feeds into the myth that either you’re “born with it” or not, a lot of untapped talent gets left on the table.
Another lesson: Young people have to get a real, live taste of manufacturing in order to really understand and appreciate it. It’s helpful to let them try their hand at the whole product development cycle. Invent something. Engineer the process to manufacture it. Hold it in your hands. Feel the joy. Refine it. Do it again. Celebrate. This is the kind of rewarding emotional feedback loop many young people experience in LEGO and robotics activities.
When young people get to make a product that actually helps other people, as several of the young people have done in these pages, that emotional feedback loop is only amplified.
Manufacturing has always been about problem solving, continuous improvement and building a better world. Slick, high-quality parts and products that improve our lives are not born overnight. Nor are the people who make them.
Katelyn Reno McCutcheon
David M. Huston
Published Date : 7/1/2015