AS A MARKETER FOR SOFTWARE serving the manufacturing industry, I am in routine communication with peers, customers, prospects and industry insiders. I hear a similar sentiment echoed by attendees at trade shows and industry events that I also hear from customers on a regular basis: The skills gap is not shrinking. The good news is that so many companies in the realm of manufacturing are successful and growing. Unfortunately, the skills gap continues to dampen our levels of growth and success. Companies must fight to find and attract the talent they need in a competitive field with a limited applicant pool and aging workforce.
From my perspective as an insider, I am keenly aware of the immense opportunities for technical and creative types to find work in manufacturing. I am talking about jobs that shape the world we live in and offer excellent pay, benefits, working conditions and opportunities for growth. What more could you hope for in a career, right? And yet, people outside of our field are vastly unaware of these possibilities.
To clarify, most people know there are job opportunities in manufacturing, but their perception of what a manufacturing job looks like is limited, so the prospect may not appeal to them. We need a shift in thinking about the manufacturing industry, and each one of us has a voice to help make that happen.
We have a responsibility to become advocates for our industry. We can take every opportunity to publicize the exciting, stable and often lucrative job opportunities available to students pursuing a technical education and anyone considering a career change. We can encourage parents, students and educators to demand industrial arts curriculums be restored in communities where they have become outdated or phased out.
We must also advocate aggressively for technical education and manufacturing programs in all schools. Technical schools are doing all they can to meet the demands for skilled labor; however, they cannot keep up with industry’s needs. Public schools without manufacturing curriculums are doing students and our economy a disservice if they are not investing in programs to prepare students for the vast number of vacancies in our industry.
With all this in mind, I encourage you, as members of the manufacturing community, to share your skills and experiences and find opportunities to tell your stories. There are four key ways to accomplish this:
- Use your network: Talk to your friends and family and use social media to show off some of the cool projects you work on and the challenges you solve. One social initiative, specifically for Mastercam users, is available to show off your capabilities and share tips, tricks and accomplishments. Masters of CAM (mastersofcam.com) is a platform you can utilize to share those tips, tricks and accomplishments as well as check out videos from other people sharing their stories.
- Participate in community events like Manufacturing Day (mfgday.com): Each year, we open our headquarters to the surrounding community to take a tour, learn about our software and talk about careers in manufacturing. This is a fantastic event, and I encourage you to host or visit a Manufacturing Day event in your area. These are phenomenal opportunities to build community awareness about the needs and opportunities that exist within your local economy.
- Connect with people on their level of interest: When people hear about the stories of everything manufacturing makes possible, they will take interest. For example, if I told a young sports enthusiast with little interest in manufacturing that the Stanley Cup was produced using toolpaths modeled in Mastercam, it just might start a conversation that sparks interest and builds awareness. If I met students interested in space exploration, I could tell them about programs like NASA HUNCH and how students are contributing to space programs. If a student is interested in medicine, think of all the ways manufacturing technology has empowered what is possible in the medical field. The bottom line is be creative and brag a little!
- Take advantage of existing resources: Encourage kids to participate in programs like FIRST Robotics, SAE International, the National Robotics League, NASA HUNCH, SkillsUSA and WorldSkills. Mastercam has partnered with all these organizations to provide free software and support to participants. You can volunteer and mentor participating students in your community. Or, you might want to speak at your local school’s career day. You can find countless ways to get involved, so look for opportunities to share your voice and experience in a way that is meaningful to you.
We have taken substantial measures at Mastercam to advocate for manufacturing education and awareness; the word of mouth you can generate as an individual to the greater community is just as important. You can build meaningful connections raising awareness and sharing your passion for manufacturing.
Industry Leaders, Companies, Educators and Students Recognized at RAPID + TCT
During SME’s 2019 RAPID + TCT event, May 20-23 at Detroit’s Cobo Center, several awards were presented to industry professionals and exhibitors, while postsecondary students and educators took part in technology-specific design and poster challenges. Many of the awards/competitions are presented and sponsored by SME’s Additive Manufacturing Community. The 2019 awards and student competitions included:
Industry Achievement—This award honors achievements that have been implemented or deployed in a commercial/industrial environment rather than research/investigative work. The 2019 winner, Emanuel “Ely” Sachs, PhD, is the co-founder and co-CTO of Desktop Metal, Burlington, Mass., and a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, Cambridge, Mass. Sachs, a pioneer of 3D printing, is the inventor of binder jet printing.
Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper—Michael Chang, a doctoral candidate in mechanical and aerospace engineering and a research assistant at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., was selected as the 2019 Aubin Award winner for his paper, “Fast Robotic Soft Matter 3D Printing for Neurosurgical Phantoms Fabrication: Proof of Concept.” Chang’s award-winning paper describes an innovative application of rapid prototyping processes and techniques.
RAPID + TCT 2019 Exhibitor Innovation—The most innovative new products or services exhibited, that are judged to have the greatest potential impact on the industry, receive recognition. Finalists included Digital Alloys, FormAlloy and Rapidia. Digital Alloys was chosen as the Exhibitor Innovation winner.
RAPID + TCT People’s Choice—Through attendee polling, exhibits are selected for being interactive, technically and aesthetically impressive as well as visually appealing and engaging. Finalists included Arburg, Desktop Metal, and Rapidia; Desktop Metal was named the winner.
Digital Manufacturing Challenge—In 2019, cross-functional teams were challenged to leverage the design freedom inherent in additive manufacturing to simplify or integrate features and functions, while simultaneously reducing size and weight and increasing the efficiency of a thermal management system, process or device. First-place winners were Gitanjali Shanbhag and Lisa Brock from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, for their design submission, “The Copper Cooler: Heat Sink for CPUs.”
RAPID + TCT Manufacturing Poster Challenge—This newly created challenge is designed to foster student interest and provide the additive manufacturing engineering community with new perspectives and innovative ideas. Participating schools included Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio; Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Mich.; University of Waterloo; Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio; Tennessee Tech, Cookeville, Tenn.; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; and the University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio. The winning entry, “Melting Mode Transition in Laser Powder Bed Fusion Additive Manufacturing,” was presented by Sagar Patel and Mihaela Vlasea, PhD, from the University of Waterloo.
RAPID + TCT 2020 will take place April 20-23 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. Event information and registration is available at rapid3devent.com.