Happy Manufacturing Day!

This calls for a celebration – Manufacturing Day is here, a day devoted to expanding knowledge and improving public perception about careers in manufacturing and the industry in general.

To honor the day, a number of manufacturers are offering facility tours and other events. Here at AMT headquarters (home of IMTS show management), IMTS TV has created a video featuring Doug Woods, President of AMT, talking about why manufacturing matters. We also have a feature on the NIMS Student Skills Summit, which attracted thousands of students to IMTS 2012, and videos covering other great topics around manufacturing.

With a skills gap growing only more pervasive throughout manufacturing, now it's more important than ever to reach out to students and educators to give them a real understanding of the good paying, highly technical careers available in the industry. We need these bright minds and the enthusiastic energy behind them to ensure that U.S. manufacturing has a strong future. While exhibitors at IMTS were encouraged to welcome students into their booths, this is an effort that happens every day - not just on the show floor. 

What are you doing to mark this day? What do you think needs to happen to improve public perception of the industry?

“Maker Schools”: A Way to Bridge the Skills Gap?

An article from Wired pointed to a recent phenomenon of classes and schools that teach “maker skills” – hands-on, DIY skills geared toward 9-5 desk jockey-types who are great with, say, a Power Point presentation, but maybe not so much at the skills necessary to make tangible objects.

The schools and programs teach everything from quilting to welding to plasma laser cutting. They’re popping up in major metropolitan areas and small towns alike. And they’re not just in the U.S. – you can find them all over the world.

So it begs the question … is this the beginning of a revolution, where herds of office drones trade their Aeron chairs for welder’s helmets, or a career as a CNC machinist?  It’s too early to say. But as the trend toward DIY takes root — manifesting itself in everything from backyard vegetable gardens to garage-housed 3-D printers — it’s possible that more than a few folks are eager to spend their days getting their hands on something other than a mouse and keyboard.

If nothing else, it appears to be a fantastic opportunity to educate a segment of the population who otherwise would not be aware of the technical know-how necessary for today’s manufacturing industry. It might not be the magic bullet that closes the skills gap, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

"Young Minds at Work" at Lockheed Martin

Students Explore Science and Space Applications

April 28, 2011 Press Release: 

"Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] Space Systems Company campuses across the nation today opened their doors to over 3,200 children aged six to 18 years to introduce them to the wonders of science, physics and mathematics in the space industry through its annual event “Young Minds at Work” day. The event inspires children to consider science, technology, engineering and mathematics education by demonstrating applications in our everyday life.

“Inspiring our youth to explore the world around them is not just important to our company but to the global economy,” said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president for Space Systems Company. “Children exploring science, technology, engineering and math today will be our leaders of tomorrow, innovating for a better and healthier planet. Young Minds at Work is one way Lockheed Martin invests in our children by tapping their natural curiosities and problem solving skills.”

Some of the activities they participated in were:

Practicing docking a spacecraft
Flying an airplane in a simulator
Launching water bottle rockets

Wish there was a program like this when I was in school!!

To see the full story:  Lockheed Martin



The first global online science competition

Get your budding scientist ready - the first global online science competition is on! Google Science Fair is open to full-time students ages 13 to 18. My oldest isn't old enough yet, but I am so excited for all the innovative kids out there that get to do this.

The Pentagon - in a battle with Microsoft

The Pentagon is vowing to do battle against an enemy that one top U.S. Marines official says “makes us stupid.” So just who is this formidable enemy? None other than Microsoft PowerPoint.

A story in the April 26 edition of the New York Times points to a slide, widely circulated on the Internet, meant to portray the complexity of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan. Complex, it was. But it also showed what can happen when use of such a business tool spirals out of control.

Microsoft’s ubiquitous presentation software is something the business world has both loved and loathed ever since a Mac-based program named “Presenter” was re-christened as PowerPoint in 1987. Darkened board rooms have never been the same.

Many a conference and meeting attendee has sat through his or her share of badly executed PowerPoint presentations. Blocks of indecipherable grey text. Colors and fonts more appropriate for a bag of Easter candy. Goofy animation and silly sound effects. And the overall theme that ties it all together: Lack of a clear message.

If your company makes a lot of these presentations — especially to your customers and clients — it’s worth taking a long, hard look at what you’re putting out there. This isn’t to say you need to hire a design firm to handle your slides (though having someone on your staff with better-than-average knowledge certainly helps). But you need to ask yourself if you’re using PowerPoint to enhance presentations, or if you’re using it as a crutch.

If you’re ready to raise your PowerPoint game, there is a wealth of resources online. A simple Google search for “effective PowerPoint presentations” yields nearly 3 million hits. Online tutorial sites such as also offer informative sessions on PowerPoint-related topics.

But don’t expect those eye-glazing presentations to go away anytime soon. Though perhaps the military will examine a different approach to eliminating the blight.

“If we really want to accomplish something we shouldn’t be teaching our allies how to use PowerPoint,” Duke University military expert Peter Feaver told ZDNet. “We should give it to the Iraqis. We’d never have to worry about them again.”

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