3 Questions: Raising Student Interest in Manufacturing

Sept. 6, 2012
The SME Foundation, sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), has been at the forefront of stimulating interest in manufacturing among students of many ages.

Automation World caught up with SME Foundation CEO Bart Aslin to learn more about what the group is doing and about the new Manufacturing Day project.

Automation World: Could you tell us a little about SME Foundation and some of the things it has sponsored?

Bart Aslin: The SME Foundation (www.smeef.org/) is heavily involved in the promoting of manufacturing careers to K-12 students with a website, www.manufacturingiscool.com, that is geared to these students. It has also funded a site, www.careerme.org, which is a web portal for anyone interested in careers in manufacturing.

Manufacturing Day (www.mfgday.com) has been designed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (www.nist.gov) and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (http://fmanet.org/) to expand knowledge about and improve general public perception of manufacturing careers and manufacturing’s value to the U.S. economy.

Manufacturing Day is Friday, October 5. Students, parents, educators, media, customers, suppliers and the community-at-large are invited to tour participating manufacturers on that day. Visitors will learn about real career opportunities, see what the companies in their community make and who they sell to, understand what training and skills are required, and discover new resources.

AW: What do the manufacturers get out of it?

Aslin: The goal of the sponsors is to rally the manufacturing community to host open houses, public tours, career workshops and other events to introduce as many people as possible to the new manufacturing reality: clean and lean facilities with highly-skilled employees implementing advanced technologies and processes. In addition, manufacturers who participate will learn about business improvement resources and services delivered through manufacturing extension partnerships.

The SME Foundation sees this is an opportunity for educators and parents to visit local employers with children, particularly those in middle school, to get them excited about the career opportunities available for those with critically important STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

AW: Sounds great. What could Automation World readers do to get involved?

Aslin: The core element to Manufacturing Day is the schedule of manufacturer’s open houses. Manufacturing Day will promote the open house schedule through its planned general and trade media campaign, which will alert thousands of people to the opportunity to visit manufacturers and see for themselves that manufacturing is alive and well in America and that it needs skilled employees. It will also make it possible for manufacturers to visit other manufacturers in their region that may be potential business partners — either as customers or suppliers. Interested companies can learn more at www.mfgday.com/index/manufacturer.

>> Manufacturing Is Cool, AW-Style: Automation World tackled the subject of manufacturing’s perception and workforce issues this past summer for our Industrial Workforce series. Visit bit.ly/awtraining