Photo: Daniel Sirk
Industryweek 13385 Img9148

The Manufacturer's Agenda: Recruiting Students to Manufacturing: The Ground Game

May 13, 2014
  Meet the true leaders who are building a strong U.S. manufacturing future.

I have seen the future of U.S. manufacturing, and it is vibrant, exciting and dynamic.

It's "robobot" competition season in the U.S., and if you can find your way to a tournament, you too will see the bright future I see.

But when you go, please know: You won't see that future by watching the battles. Sure, they're the hook: Sparks fly! Metal screeches against metal! Parts careen through the air!

But that's the sideshow.

Instead, watch the students, their teacher advisors, and -- especially for you, the 
IndustryWeek audience -- the company-sponsor advisors and representatives.

Look at the faces of the students: The intensity, the focus, the concentration -- whether they're preparing their 'bot for battle, watching it perform in the cage, or repairing it afterward, they're dialed in.

Watch how the teams race back to the "pit" to repair their damaged 'bot (win or lose, few survive without at least some damage). See how they circle the table, urgently working to repair and improve their 'bot, like emergency room surgeons reviving a patient.

Note the teamwork, as two members bang out dents from the body, another recharges the battery, yet another rechecks the circuitry and wiring, and still others ensure the integrity of the wheels.

In quieter times, observe the sportsmanship, the students stopping by each other's pit. Sure, sometimes it's to gain intel -- it's a competition after all -- but just as often it's to collaborate on solving a problem, share some advice or lend a tool.

And the adults hovering nearby? They've spent months volunteering an evening or two each week to guide their team. The teacher-advisors cheer for their team to win, but it's clear they know what the students already have won (read: learned). The company-sponsor advisors can be overheard declaring how they've gotten as much, and more, out of the experience as the students.

The teachers and company advisors, as well as the numerous volunteers who hosted the competition, are leading the ground game in the battle to inspire students to pursue manufacturing careers, a few students at a time. From what I saw late last month at the AWT Robobot Competition, near Cleveland, Ohio, they've captured the attention of many students and changed the minds of many parents.

Yes, I know: Not all of the students will pursue a manufacturing career. But some will -- and I have no doubt the experience will stay with those who don't. They'll remember the challenge of transforming an idea, knowledge and materials into something tangible; they'll respect the people who take on that challenge, which is another huge step in the right direction.

I encourage you to go see a robotics competition in your area, where the best and brightest students, working together with the most dedicated teachers and manufacturing professionals, are shaping the future of U.S. manufacturing.

I'm betting you just might be inspired to join them.

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Gain a competitive edge with real-world lessons on private 5G networks

Nov. 16, 2023
The use of private networks in manufacturing applications is rapidly growing. In this paper, we present valuable insights and lessons learned from the field with the goal of enhancing...

Decarbonization Navigator: A Toolkit for Organizations

Sept. 28, 2023
The increasing urgency of addressing climate change along with stakeholder pressures are driving the need for organizations to prioritize decarbonization. Discover how to start...

Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics Guidebook for Engineers

Sept. 27, 2023
Leverage Domain Expertise to Drive Optimization – Without Needing a Data Scientist.

You Cannot Stay Competitive by Bolting New Technologies to a Legacy ERP

Oct. 20, 2023
Read this white paper to understand the benefits of shifting to a next-generation ERP system as part of a DOP.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!