I think it's impossible to deny that this edition of IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show – was the most dynamic and inspiring that we've seen in years.
The sheer number of visitors – 114,147 – gives proof that there is plenty of interest in manufacturing and the technology that makes it more efficient, more productive, more flexible, and more innovative.
But high attendance figures only tell part of the story.
The technology displayed on the exhibit floor shows an industry at the top of its game. It was evident in the rapidly growing presence of automation in just about every manufacturing process and the emerging uses of software, data and information for a variety of applications on the factory floor.
But it was perhaps most obvious in the sheer buzz experienced in AMT's Emerging Technology Center when the world's first 3-D printed electric vehicle started up and drove out of McCormick Place and onto the Chicago streets.
One of the events that left me most excited about the state of the industry and its future was the Smartforce Student Summit.
While IMTS has hosted a student summit for a number of years, this edition held an excitement never before seen. Not only was it the biggest and best attended in the history of the program, it was truly an "all-in" effort between exhibitors, schools, and other educational entities that made for a remarkable event.
Kids started the day curious as to what they might see and the Summit delivered! Plenty of "ah-ha" moments, interactive exhibits and engaging speakers along the way hopefully sparked their interest in how STEM and manufacturing can provide great career pathways.
We were also visited by a number of government officials and were pleased to not only show them the most advanced manufacturing technology in the world, but also educate them on the issues that U.S. manufacturers face in terms of global competitiveness and other challenges to growth.
As manufacturing has been a consistent leader in economic recovery since the recession, we want to impress upon our government leaders the importance of working with industry in a spirit of collaboration to create the best possible environment for success.
IMTS is a week of huge excitement for our industry, but my hope is that the spirit and energy that drove everyone to experience the show can be carried throughout the entire year.
The passion, excitement, and energy are greater than ever. Let's keep moving forward.