Make Every Day Manufacturing Day
Building interested audiences for manufacturing careers.
For a national event without its own Wikipedia page (yet), Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) is officially a thing. Created by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International (FMA) in 2012 to take place on the first Friday in October, Manufacturing Day (promoted as MFG DAY) is now produced by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) with key contributions from the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
In one sense, it’s a national open house for manufacturing companies choosing to participate. From the event’s mission page: Manufacturing Day addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after Manufacturing Day, manufacturers address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.
Projections indicate that roughly 600,000 people attended MFG DAY events in 2016 (the last year for which data is available) and that 267,000 of them were students. That means nearly 225,000 students walked away from their MFG DAY 2016 event with a more positive perception of manufacturing, according to Deloitte’s findings.
Not every MFG DAY event is an open house and plant tour. Innovative events are taking place online. Adam Cook, Chief Technical Officer at Alliedstrand, a provider of advanced automation technologies and industrial software, is on the leadership team of the SME Virtual Network, an online community of SME (formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers). For Manufacturing Day, Cook hosted a very thorough overview of manufacturing fundamentals for students and makers, as well as, an introduction to Industry 4.0 and its technologies. “The SME Virtual Network exists to explore and implement new engagement opportunities for SME members, students, emerging professionals and anyone else who is interested in manufacturing using the Internet,” he says. Live streaming events are a natural choice to present content and invite new conversations. Live events via our YouTube channel serve as one of our most powerful communication and engagement mediums.”
“In addition to the two short webinars that we hosted on Manufacturing Day this year, we also regularly host workshops and walkthroughs on the SME Virtual Network in an effort to narrow the skills gap. The SME Virtual Network is driven by our Leadership Team as presented on our website.”
I invited Cook to provide more guidance regarding MFG DAY and the SME Virtual Network. Our Q&A follows:
Q: Do you have to be a SME member to view our content?
Our engagement opportunities are typically open to the public, including the Manufacturing Day videos. We have a public Meetup Group where we invite the public to join and register for our events. A vast majority of our events are open to the public in order to introduce the public to SME and what advanced manufacturing has to offer.
For physical, certificate-based training programs we intend to offer in 2019 and beyond, there will be a fee involved for non-SME members if they wish to receive a Certificate of Completion. Although, non-SME members are still invited to attend via our YouTube channel for free.
Q: How long will the videos be up?
Forever. YouTube automatically records and posts our content. For the benefit of those who could not make it during the live event, the recordings will remain available indefinitely.
Q: What’s been the feedback to date?
The SME Virtual Network is entirely feedback-driven, and this is something that the Leadership Team is immensely proud of. We have received a healthy amount of feedback this year on both the technologies that the SME Virtual Network should focus on and the ongoing quality of our content. The feedback has not always been positive, but we welcome it just the same.
As a result of this feedback, we have updated the ways in which we present content. For example, we are increasingly focusing our efforts on “walkthroughs” to demonstrate new, challenging technologies to our audience step-by-step in a hands-on fashion.
That said, there is more to be done. Currently, we are running an Industry 4.0 poll to discover which technologies our audience would like to see prioritized in 2019. This poll can be accessed here.
Promoting the opportunities and the challenges of manufacturing and engineering in a clear-eyed and engaging effort is an ongoing effort by a number of manufacturing companies and organizations. Creating open invitations for students, other companies, and the general public to participate goes a long way to making each day Manufacturing Day.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.
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