When I was young, every day was Manufacturing Day (at least for me). My grandfather’s small machine shop, where my mom and uncle worked, was a common family gathering place and a central part of our lives.
As a child, I learned what manufacturing was about from stories told at the dinner table and from my time on the end of a broom sweeping chips off of the shop floor.
I wasn’t planning a future career in manufacturing (actually, I swore to my uncle that manufacturing wasn’t for me) but, I was asking a few questions and watching everything with a curious fascination.
That experience influenced my choice.
When the time came for me to choose a career that fit my interests, aptitude and my need for a non-traditional (no four-year college) career path, my familiarity with the industry told me that manufacturing was a good option. Twenty five years later, I can see that I made a good decision.
Of course, not everyone who has chosen a career in manufacturing had an experience like mine. But what we do share is that at some point in our lives we were introduced to the industry and decided it was worth giving it a try.
A Need for Manufacturing Day
Unfortunately, over the last decade or so, many have not even considered trying it.
Whether this was due to worries about the viability of U.S. manufacturing in the face of globalization or because of the stigma that has been unfairly associated with skilled trades, it seems as if an entire generation has grown up blind to this vital industry and the opportunity that it offers.
That is why we need Manufacturing Day.
It gives today’s kids their chance to see what manufacturing is really like. And what they’ll find might surprise them!
They’ll see that manufacturing is not the opposite of high-tech; instead, technology and manufacturing are now inseparable partners that are restoring the U.S. as the world’s manufacturer of choice.
This is not your (or my) grandfather’s manufacturing. Like everything else connected to technology today, our industry is rapidly changing.
Those beginning a career in manufacturing now will surely be on a path of continuous education, learning to make things in ways we can’t even think of right now. They will need ongoing training, both on the shop floor and in the classroom.
A Difference in a Day
So, can one day really make a difference?
What impact will the open houses have on the thousands of students who attend them today? I’m sure some of the kids will be bored out of their minds and vow to never, ever work in manufacturing. Others will enjoy the experience and feel much better informed but still choose a different path.
And then there will be some that, when they step onto the shop floor, their eyes will light up with wonder, their heart will race with excitement, their mind will be piqued with curiosity and they will know… they will know that a manufacturing career will be their choice.
This day is for them.
And for them, MFG Day will make a big difference!
Gary Weldon is the co-founder and editor of the popular manufacturing blog MADEinDAYTONblog.com. When he’s not working to help improve the industry’s image, he develops new business opportunities for Staub Manufacturing Solutions, a production laser cutting and metal fabrication company in Dayton, Ohio.