It's Parents Who Can Make A Difference!

The members of the Tooling and Manufacturing Association have been implementing education initiatives in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. The involvement of TMA members is critical to the success of these programs, many of which can be easily implemented by a few companies in a single community.

Columns From: 10/1/2000 Modern Machine Shop,

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The members of the Tooling and Manufacturing Association have been implementing education initiatives in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. The involvement of TMA members is critical to the success of these programs, many of which can be easily implemented by a few companies in a single community. The main goal is to get more information into the right hands: the hands of students, parents, guidance counselors, parents, school administrators, parents, teachers—and did I mention parents?

Now that IMTS Student Summit 2000 is behind us, let's use the momentum to reach out even more into our educating communities and educate by communicating about our industry.

In addition to giving career presentations in conjunction with Student Summit, giving plant tours throughout the year and serving on advisory councils and school boards, TMA members sponsor the annual Precision Metalworking Competition. The contest marks its tenth year in 2001.

Here's how it works. Project prints at three levels of complexity are chosen by the TMA Education and Recruitment Committee and distributed to area high school metalworking programs. Students have until April to work on the projects. At that time, the projects are measured by a team of volunteer judges and scored accordingly. Each of the three winning places for each project is accompanied by a U.S. savings bond prize. Students achieving 75 percent or more of the possible points receive honorable mention.

Prizes are awarded at an event featuring a display of the student projects, a career fair, and a dinner attended by students, parents, teachers, parents, guidance counselors, school administrators—and did I mention parents?

This year, students received about $17,000 in savings bond prizes (face value), as well as trophies for the winners, plaques for the teachers, certificates for the honorable mention recipients and the exclusive TMA "Surgeons of Steel" T-shirt. All students who attended the dinner—regardless of whether they won a prize—received a T-shirt.

Did I mention the parents?

They were treated to an excellent dinner and a few well-chosen speakers: TMA president Bruce Braker, chairman of the board Tim Piper and a young man named Lee Kolaski who started machining in high school. Lee won several SkillsUSA-VICA contests and the TMA metalworking competition. He attended the college-credit TMA Related Theory Apprentice Training program, and now attends the Illinois Institute of Technology in the Bachelor of Manufacturing Technology and Management program. He earns more money than most 23-year-olds. Lee is an outstanding role model for metalworking students and a great success story. Also honored at the event were the winners of the annual Math in Manufacturing Poster Contest for high school students and the Manufacturing Essay Contest for seventh and eighth graders—two other successful and very simple contests that TMA offers each year; both can be easily duplicated in your community.

Did I mention the parents? They came away knowing more about the industry and its opportunities than they did before and with a renewed commitment to supporting their sons and daughters who wish to pursue careers in metalworking. Here's what some of them had to say...

  • "We did not realize the magnitude of the industry or the number of potential opportunities it offered."
  • "This is our fourth year attending... [after the first year] we started encouraging our son to consider a metalworking career."
  • "It is clear that there is still [and will continue to be] a significant role for skilled metalworkers . . . enjoying technology makes it even more interesting."
  • "Your support and encouragement of kids at the high school level is wonderful. [The evening] left the kids with a genuine sense of accomplishment."
  • "I'm very proud of my son."

Displaying and honoring the work of these students is a critical factor in improving the perception of the industry by promoting pride and affirming the value of these skills among the students, parents, educators—and did I say parents?

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