Stephanie Monsanty recently joined the Modern Machine Shop as our Assistant Editor. She holds a B.A. degree from the University of Mount Union in English literature and in history and is currently pursuing a master’s in professional writing at the University of Cincinnati. When she’s not editing product releases, helping out with other MMS tasks, teaching or going to class, Stephanie enjoys cooking, running and exploring the Queen City.
Houstex 2013 will celebrate the “Art of Manufacturing” by highlighting innovative industry technology—but don’t expect a static display of machinery! Manufacturing’s art is functional, dynamic and creative, and that’s exactly what this edition of Houstex is all about.
The show will feature products and services designed to creatively solve manufacturing challenges. The three-day event will feature two keynote speakers, panel discussions, presentations in the Laser Learning Lounge and various student activities. Although the show is traditionally heavy on oil and gas equipment, other industries including aerospace, transportation, plastics and medical will also be represented.
Most people turn to kitchen knives and store-bought carving kits to turn their pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, but Flow International has an unconventional method: waterjets.
This video from the company’s Can Water Cut It? site features Flow Man, a hero dedicated to spreading the message that water can cut virtually anything. Flow Man proves this message in a series of videos that show waterjets cutting everything from a cake to a bowling ball, even an iPhone.
While the majority of those videos simply highlight the range of materials waterjets can cut, this particular example also demonstrates the technology’s accuracy in making complex cuts.
Organized by the PMA’s Women in Manufacturing Initiative, the summit reflects the conviction that women can aid U.S. manufacturing by filling the industry’s skilled job openings. With jobs being a hot-button issue of this year’s presidential election, filling those openings seems all the more pressing. Women aren't applying for those jobs, however, because many are unaware of or uninterested in careers in manufacturing. Women who do work in the industry say that more efforts are needed to attract female workers.
The problem is multifaceted. One issue is that gender stereotypes continue to steer women away from careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries. Another is that the lack of women in manufacturing is part of the larger perception problem that the industry faces. Potential workers (both men and women) are still being turned off by manufacturing’s reputation as dirty and dangerous. And in an industry that is still very much populated by men, women who do find themselves in the manufacturing sector may feel isolated or singled out, lacking mentors or role models. According to Lisa Habe, president of Interlake Industries (Willoughby, Ohio), it isn't uncommon for her to be outnumbered by men 10 to one at industry meetings. Without a network of other women to look to, manufacturing can be an intimidating industry.
The Women in Manufacturing Summit arose out of these unmet needs of women in the industry. The summit’s beginning dates back to a small group meeting of PMA members who attended Fabtech in 2009. These women gathered to discuss industry best practices and the challenges they faced as minorities in the field. The group met twice more in 2010, and in 2011 they hosted a leadership program titled “Partnering with Horses” at the Pebble Ledge Ranch in Novelty, Ohio. The success and popularity of these early meetings pushed the group members to think bigger. The group became the PMA’s Women in Manufacturing Initiative, and its small, intimate gatherings grew into the first Women in Manufacturing Summit, which met in Cleveland, Ohio, October 2011.
Women in Manufacturing isn’t all about girl power, though. It’s also about educational experiences, networking opportunities and best practices in the manufacturing industry. The inaugural event offered keynote presentations on management, leadership and communication strategies. This year’s summit will feature four educational tracks, a series of roundtables, a panel discussion on “Manufacturing Best Practices,” and speakers from well-known companies including Gayle Tauber (Kashi), Gail Lione (Harley-Davidson), Jennifer McNelly (The Manufacturing Institute) and Laurie Harbour (Harbour Results), among others.
Like the inaugural summit, the 2012 event aims to strengthen the network of women already involved in manufacturing. However, in light of the estimated 600,000 skilled manufacturing job openings in the United States, the event has the additional goal of developing ideas and programs to attract more women to the industry. If women are to be part of the jobs solution for manufacturing, they need to be aware that such jobs exist and are rewarding career choices for women. “Women have the skill needed by our industry,” says Allison Grealis, head of the PMA’s Women in Manufacturing Initiative. “It’s up to us to show them the opportunities available in manufacturing.”
It’s no secret that Detroit and the rest of Southeast Michigan were hit hard by the recession. But you may not know about Automation Alley, the organization that is hard at work to get the region back on its feet.
Based in Troy, Michigan, Automation Alley is a nonprofit offering programs and services to area manufacturers. Through defense contracts, seed funding, financial advising, and its unique Trade Mission Program, among others, the organization has successfully grown businesses at the local—and global—levels.
Read more about Automation Alley and its impact here.