Educating The Educators

Let’s forget about the current manufacturing recession for a minute. Instead, let’s ask ourselves two questions (a) Where were we before it? And (b) where will we be after recovery? Prior to the recession, the No.

Columns From: 3/1/2002 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Chris Koepfer

Let’s forget about the current manufacturing recession for a minute. Instead, let’s ask ourselves two questions (a) Where were we before it? And (b) where will we be after recovery?

Prior to the recession, the No. 1 inhibitor for the metalworking business specifically, and manufacturing in general, was a shortage of skilled workers. It’s a safe bet that when comes the recovery (and it will come), worker shortages will still be a big problem for our industry.

Those of you who have read this column for a while know that I occasionally use it as a pulpit to rail against the ignorance of those who don’t know a machine tool from an armored tank. Through this column we have commiserated about the loss of jobs to overseas and the decimation of industries that are vital to the overall economy.

But that’s really only talking about stuff we in manufacturing already know. The real problem is we haven’t done a very good job of promoting ourselves to the academic powers that direct students to different fields. Math teachers, science teachers and guidance counselors especially know little about the environment and opportunity in modern manufacturing. The brutal facts are that in schools across the country, manufacturing courses are being eliminated because of a lack of student interest. The prime cause of this is a lack of knowledge about manufacturing careers.

Well, it’s time to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. There is an upcoming opportunity to do something about the problem. We have the power. Here’s the deal.

IMTS 2002 will include the third Student Summit. The Student Summit is an opportunity for kids from elementary, middle and high schools; technical schools and apprenticeship programs; and community colleges and universities to attend IMTS. But more than simply a tour of the show, this concept focuses the students on career opportunities, orientation on the state and future of manufacturing technology, and the opportunity to interface with industry representatives and other students already involved in manufacturing technology.

Members of various trade associations organize the activities for the students. I’m quite sure that many of you have school age children. My challenge is for you to contact your kids’ math teachers, science teachers and guidance counselors. Briefly explain the IMTS Student Summit and ask them to visit www.imtsnet.org and click on Student Summit.

All the details and information are there. We have the power . . . let’s use it!

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