Douglas Woods is president of AMT  The Association for Manufacturing Technology

The Story Doesn't End with Manufacturing Day

Where I feel the real power lies for boosting our industry is in efforts outside of that. It's important that we're finding ways to share that passion with a broader audience, especially the younger generation – those who will carry our industry forward in the years to come.

What if we only had one day – just 24 hours – to tell the complete story about manufacturing?

Take a minute to think about all of the things that take place around you each day, competing for your attention. There are "real world" things like work, family events, traffic, your daily to-do list. Limited strictly to the online world, there's the chaos of an email inbox and a dizzying array of social media feeds competing for your eyeballs at every turn. Chances are you're only paying attention to the things that are most relevant to you, the things that speak the loudest.

Essentially, this is what we get with Manufacturing Day. On October 4, it's one day where we can try to cut through all the noise and communicate to the public (and especially younger generations) all of the great things that our industry has to offer.

Across the country, manufacturers and other groups are opening their doors and otherwise showing their support for this occasion. AMT is proud to be a sponsor, and to make an attention-grabbing statement, we're sending our Smartforce Rally Fighter to the Dayton, Ohio, area to tour schools and manufacturing firms in the area. With an eye-catching design and a great story behind it, the Rally Fighter is a great way to get people asking how they can find out more.

There are plenty of opportunities for those of us in the industry to get together and "talk shop." Here at AMT, we take part in a number of different industry-related events, coalitions, forums, and so on. About this time last year, more than 100,000 people came to our premier event – IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show) – to see the latest technology and get a read on where the industry is heading. In less than two weeks, we'll come together at another big AMT event, the Global Forecasting & Marketing Conference, to hear the latest economic predictions for manufacturing.

We love to do it, because we're passionate about manufacturing and the people behind it. But where I feel the real power lies for boosting our industry is in efforts outside of that. It's important that we're finding ways to share that passion with a broader audience, especially the younger generation – those who will carry our industry forward in the years to come.

What's most important to remember is that we can't limit our outreach efforts to just one day. While Manufacturing Day is a great occasion to designate a day, host a bunch of open houses, and bring through some tour groups, this effort has to take place 365 days a year. For those of you who share this passion with me, I'll ask — what are you doing personally to ensure young people know why this industry matters, and why it offers them great opportunities for the future?

What's in it for Me?

When it comes to what grabs your attention most, let's face it — the first question you're probably asking is "What's in it for me?" The more something seems to have to offer for you personally, the more likely it is to get your attention. When it comes to students, their parents and educators, it's time for us to answer that question for them.

So let's give answers that tell them that. What's in it for them is a great career where they'll learn new things all the time and have a strong potential for growth. They can get an affordable education at a technical or community college and not accrue thousands of dollars in debt – plus a great likelihood of having a job at graduation.

What's in it for us in the industry is a new generation of talented, engaged workers who can design and build the technical innovations of tomorrow.

Finally, what's in it for us all is a stronger economy and a continuing entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. It's only by making things here that we can continue to create the groundbreaking technology that will carry us into the future.

I hope you'll join me and many others of us who want to put manufacturing front and center – not just on one day, but every day of the year.


Douglas Woods is president of AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology.

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