More often than not, manufacturers emphasize the need for advanced math skills by skilled production employees today.
Miles Free, director of industry research and technology for the Precision Machined Products Association, shares one example of how changing technology has impacted skills requirements. He compares CNC machines and older technology mechanical cam automatic machines.
"In the old days, the adjustments were all manual, mostly by feel, and involved loosening screws, tapping with hammers and retightening. Today's CNC multi-axis machines require knowledge of Cartesian coordinate systems, (5 and 7 axes, not just x, y and z); trigonometry to calculate offsets, and sophisticated math for linear interpolation of thread forms; and G code and block logic programming to operate and adjust the machine and its operations -- plus tolerances are now at the 5th decimal place in some cases.
"Recently, I had to calculate a thermal growth factor for a part that had grown overnight. The coefficient of linear expansion is 0.0000073 inches per inch. Do you think that 20 years ago the average machinist would be able to routinely use that figure in their calculations?
"The math, conceptualization, visualization and now ability to find cause and effect in lines of software code are why employers say they are looking for math-qualified problem-solvers, not merely manual labor."