By Greg Jones
AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology
This article first appeared in its entirety in the April 2013 issue of AMT News.
At the NIMS Student Summit at IMTS 2012, we introduced a new concept: MTAmbassadors. For the first time, we asked Student Summit exhibitors to staff their booths with younger engineers who had just started their careers with the company.
Because it’s easier for a student to relate to someone closer to their age, we thought that younger engineers would be more approachable for middle school and high school students, and we seem to have been right about that. We provided the MTAmbassadors with badges and we let the students know in their orientation session that they could look for those badges as they visited the Student Summit exhibits. As a result, exhibitors reported less apprehension among students in approaching and interacting with the exhibits and staff.
As we are developing strategies to change perceptions about the importance of STEM education and careers in manufacturing among parents, students, educators and policy makers, we are continuing to expand on the use of MTAmbassadors.
We’ve collaborated with Gardner Business Media and the SME Education Foundation on a DVD series, including print materials that have been sent to 5,000 Project Lead The Way schools, with the videos also available online in the Modern Machine Shop Next Generation Zone. One video includes a QC Engineer at GE who talks about what she does at a jet engine manufacturing plant and how rewarding she finds her work there.
In the coming months, we’ll be creating videos that leverage the MTAmbassador concept, so if you have any young employees at your company who you think would be a good candidate for a video interview discussing their career, please let me know.
It’s absolutely necessary for all of us to act as ambassadors of manufacturing on a local, regional and national level, and there are a number of things that you can do in support of the AMT Manufacturing Mandate to build a better educated and trained Smartforce.
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited with the administrators at school systems in your local area, make a point to schedule a visit with an agenda to talk about the importance of U.S. manufacturing, and why we need a stronger pipeline of young people coming into careers in our industry.
Offer to mentor the machine trades or STEM academy teachers at schools in your area.
Get better acquainted with the advanced manufacturing technology community college programs, as well as the engineering schools in your town or your region, and offer to provide internship opportunities, and /or restart a traditional apprenticeship program at your company.
If you have a company anniversary coming up or you have another reason to schedule an open house at your company, don’t forget to invite the public, educators, administrators, your congressional representative and other policy makers, in addition to your customers and partners. To change the trajectory of the skills gap in our industry, we must all act as ambassadors for U.S. manufacturing.