Attracting and Inspiring Future Leaders in Automation
Dec 3, 2018
Five slightly nervous, but anxious college students approached us with questions in hand. These young people were on a mission. They were part of the great packaging race, sponsored by PACK EXPO International®, an event showing how manufacturing is about innovation, technology and really cool stuff.
Ten groups, with about five students in each, enjoyed the scavenger hunt that took them to various company booths throughout the exhibition floors. The goal was for the students to see innovation in action and to talk to people about their passions in manufacturing and engineering.
AMK participated in the great race because we believe in the future of the industry – exposing the college-aged engineering teams to what’s next for them in their careers and how automation is making the manufacturing footprint smaller, quicker and more agile.
Besides all that, these kids LOVED the kugelbahn — a museum-quality demonstration featuring the AMK decentralized solutions, including the AMKASMART iSA decentralized machine controller.
One thing that I really appreciated was how curious they were. They asked what it’s like to be an engineer in packaging? Is it learning CODESYS or coding from a laundry list of statements? Can it be something in between manually coding to icon-based programming?
All great questions.
Their eyes expanded to the size of 50-cent pieces when seeing they could program a machine by using AMK’s simple interface. “This is cool,” one student said. “You guys made programming pretty simple.” (This was a big compliment to us.) By showing them our MAKe middleware solution demonstration, the students saw, touched and experienced the answers to their questions.
Manufacturing by the Numbers
Manufacturing, technology and engineering will become more open and flexible to learning as the newest entrants to the workforce learn. We will see even more simplified interfaces that will allow them to do their jobs faster. Gone are the days of pencil, paper and calculators.
The students are entering manufacturing at a great time. Here are some numbers behind US manufacturing:
· The workforce has 12.75 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 8.6 percent of all employees. Since the end of the Great Recession, manufacturers have hired an additional 1.3 million workers. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
· In 2017, the average manufacturing worker earned $84,832 annually, which includes salary and benefits. The average manufacturing worker earned $27 per hour. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics)
· Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, of which two million will go unfilled due to the skills gap. (Source: Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute)
· Eighty percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled production positions. (Source: Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute)
The opportunities for these young adults are wherever their minds take them. They live and breathe technology and have been connected to smart phones, gaming devices and personal technology since being disconnected from the umbilical cord. And their thumbs move at the speed of conveyor systems.
But they also are still kids at heart as they collected various giveaways throughout the show. “Wow! That’s a great backpack,” one student said after she viewed our demonstration. She quickly snatched up the gray AMK canvas bag we were giving out — no doubt to fill up with goodies for the return trip home.