The Kids Are Alright!

I’ve heard a lot about how the current crop of young people are entitled, lazy, and unprepared for a rapidly changing employment landscape - where competition from millions of technically skilled foreign workers will bring about the end of the American middle class. Pretty scary stuff! On a recent trip to Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN, however, I met a group of super smart, highly engaged high school students learning technical skills and applying them directly to projects with a proficiency I could have only dreamed about at their age. Due to the school’s difficult curriculum, these kids will be able to land a job immediately after leaving high school, with or without a college education, and make some serious coin. In the immortal words of The Who, “The Kids Are Alright!”­­­  

I traveled out to Mishawaka for Making College Work Night, an event co-sponsored by AMT, local manufacturing companies, and various educational institutions. We brought the IMTS Rally Fighter to drum up excitement about the event and draw attention to the diverse careers available in the manufacturing technology industry. As a group of students from the STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) Academy were helping me roll the car down the hall, I got word that they were building a ladder climbing, Frisbee throwing robot. Being an avid disc tosser since high school, I was intrigued and grabbed my video camera to get a closer look.  

As I entered the STEM wing of the high school I was immediately impressed by all of the resources these students had at their disposal. Everywhere I looked there were fully loaded Macs and PCs running CAD software. Adjacent to the classrooms was a fully equipped fabrication shop loaded with machine tools, welding gear, and soldering stations. It was a different level than the physics classrooms I remember in high school, containing a few oscilloscopes and some scales. 

After a day of interviews, trust me when I say the future is in very good hands. The students I met were a cut above the rest and destined to kick some serious butt in life. Everybody I spoke with was extremely knowledgeable, and I found myself struggling to just keep up, much less ask an intelligent follow-up question that didn’t let on I had no idea what they were talking about. I can’t imagine where I would be if my high school had those kind of resources and pushed me to experiment with different skill sets before deciding what I wanted to do in college and with the rest of my life.  

Penn High School is stepping up and providing its students with the technical skills and knowledge they need to get good paying jobs straight out of high school and succeed in an increasingly competitive and global workplace. The future success of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. depends on providing upcoming generations with the skills and knowledge they need to compete and build solutions. Penn High School is a shining example of how to accomplish just that. 

Watch the video below for interviews with Penn High School students and teachers as well as a demonstration of their ultimate ascent robot. 


At Your Library: Books, DVDs ... Demolition Hammers?

In some communities, the library is more than a repository of books, or a place where you get shushed for talking too loud. These days, libraries are offering courses on things like butchering and home brewing, and in some cases offering the equipment needed to do it.

As we grow into a more DIY culture, and libraries look for ways to appeal to a new audience, these types of offerings are popping up in many places. The Wall Street Journal recently printed an article on the trend. Perhaps growing frustrated with not having some of the hands-on skills of previous generations, many people are learning to do things like sewing, carpentry, car repair, and acquiring other skills for things that are often left to a paid professional.

With a trend growing toward individualized and one-off manufacturing, one can only imagine that it's just a matter of time before 3-D printing enters that same realm. Or maybe even courses in things like welding and CNC machining, or robotics programming.

What type of manufacturing-related courses would you like to see at your local library?


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?

Good News for Automotive, and Good News for Manufacturing

Just 3 years ago, the Big Three automakers saw their factories running around 50 percent capacity. Now, it's predicted they will be at greater than 100 percent capacity by year's end. It's uplifting news for the automotive industry, and manufacturing as a whole.

This article from The Detroit News gives more details of the report, done by Ron Harbour of Oliver Wyman. He notes that automakers continue to move with caution, with an eye toward efficiency throughout the supply chain.

Still, it's good to hear some good news for the industry, and let's hope it continues throughout the rest of the year.

Drum roll please … meet the winner of Convince Them in 60 Seconds!

Congratulations to DocMagnet, winner of the IMTS 2012 Convince Them in 60 Seconds video competition! DocMagnet garnered the highest vote total with their video, Got Magnets.

The winners received a $100 American Express gift card, and will have their video featured on IMTSTV. Stop by their booth at W-1356 to say hello! You can also visit their website at

Thanks to all of our exhibitors who entered the contest, and everyone who voted. We had some very creative submissions and we appreciate everyone taking the time to send in their videos. Thanks for being part of the fun! 

Previous Entries / More Entries