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To Start the School Year: Maximize Student Motivation

Posted by Bert Maes on September 3, 2012

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In many countries it is the first day of school today. The ideal moment to talk about motivation, don’t you think?

In a post last year, I talked about how high-tech machines greatly improve student motivation. But of course that is not the whole story.

School teacher Bill Ferriter explains that technology alone isn’t motivating.

What students are really motivated by are opportunities to be social. It’s the opportunity to give students activities built around the big ideas that matter to them, and the opportunity to interact and share with their peers.

They are motivated by issues connected to fairness and justice. They are motivated by finding solutions to the often-troubling changes they see happening in the world around them.

Motivating students should start with conversations about our kids. What are they deeply moved by? What are they most interested in? What would surprise them? Challenge them? Leave them wondering?

You can find some inspiration in my posts called “The Truth about…Youth” and “A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 3]

The goal of all conversations at school should be maximizing student motivation, self-confidence, personal responsibility, work ethic and communication skills.

Business executives concerned about their future workforce are deeply worried about exactly these job readiness skills.

For that purpose we should improve curriculum, bring the schools up to date technologically, hire and retain the best teachers and ensure that they are using the most effective teaching practices.

But foremost the right skills start with the right mental framework. If students learn how to be committed, determined and how to set brilliant goals, they are ready for great achievements.

An “I will do this” culture of commitment, determination, action and specific goals is the foundation of the job readiness skills business leaders find lacking in students. Help students to be willing to work and ready to learn.

Create a culture of success. They will realize far more of their potential. I take that up in the next post.


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A Change Model for Manufacturing Education

Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2012

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So many people sit and debate about the costs or human resources of reforming education.

Usually they talk about the huge amount of money that is needed, the lack of strategy from the government, or a lack of authorities coordinating between education and industry, or the lack of involvement of social partners in actively implementing support for education.

That was the case last month, at a conference in Bratislava Slovakia entitled “Can we prepare young people for the Slovakian business needs?” I was asked to be a keynote speaker, because, and I quote:

“I have come across your blog, while doing research for a stakeholder workshop in Bratislava which is aimed to tackle the ability of education system and public policies to produce qualified and high-skilled labour force. We are looking for a speaker for this workshop that would be able to provide a valuable insight about the best practices in preparing students for employers’ needs. I would like to offer those who attend a fresh look from abroad by someone who´s an expert on the business-education system relation and you seem to fit that.”

The problem in Slovakia is that there is a mismatch between the needs of the economy and the types of graduates that the Slovak education system delivers.

That is the problem everywhere, right?

Most solutions count heavily on the input of governments. However, very often governments do not provide teachers with the right tools to share their knowledge and skills to the students who need and want to learn.

In educational reform, the focus should always be on supporting teachers.

The only right approach in educational innovation is supporting teachers in increasing the performance and motivation of their students.

And this can be done without breaking the bank.

Let’s face the facts:

  • 40 years of education research confirms that the quality of a teacher is the biggest factor in boosting students’ performance.
  • Change outcome in education is explained almost completely by commitment of the teacher. (Crandall, 1982)
  • There is no manufacturing without skills, and there are no skills without teachers, so there is simply no manufacturing without teachers.
  • Stakeholders should not be thinking about how to get teachers to do things, but think about to help teachers do things.
  • What do teachers need? (1) supportive leadership, (2) access to high-quality curriculum, teaching resources & technology, (3) Time for teachers to collaborate, (4) clean & safe building conditions, (5) Professional development that is relevant to personal & school goals, (6) Collegial work environment, (7) Higher salaries.

For at least half of these elements, we don’t have to wait for political strategies, but we can work with schools individually to design and implement educational innovation. The options are simply outstanding at the micro level.

We have a big job to do — and that is to create an interest in manufacturing. If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to lose a core part of our economy.

As the shortage of skilled technicians is a global trend that needs to be reversed immediately, the HTEC program is working with schools at micro level to spark change.

Haas Automation is sitting down at the table with teachers and brings meaningful real education tools that work.

Our goal is offering a gentle, and real way to create development in education that promotes innovation and world class learning in manufacturing.

We are happy to share our model with whoever wants to take on this difficult but inspiring work.

A little preview:

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Manufacturing: the unseen underground economy

Posted by Bert Maes on October 7, 2011

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In 1850, a decade before the Civil War, the United States’ economy was small — it wasn’t much bigger than Italy’s. Forty years later, it was the largest economy in the world. What happened in between was (…) the rise of steel and manufacturing — and the economy was never the same,” says W. Brian Arthur, an economist and technology thinker.

Since ages manufacturing is quietly, for many people unnoticeably, transforming the economy.

Manufacturing is silent, invisible and unseen.

Much like the root system for aspen trees, Arthur observes. “For every acre of aspen trees above the ground, there’s about ten miles of roots underneath, all interconnected with one another, “communicating” with each other.”

The observable physical world of aspen trees hides an unseen underground root system.

Just like trees, CNC machine tools are creating for us — slowly, quietly, and steadily — a different world.

Think about this: the success of Steve Jobs was based on CNC manufacturing machines, based on the invisible roots undergound: Apple puts CNC Machining Front and Center.

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[VIDEO] A Celebration of Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on May 25, 2011

Showcasing the diversity, ingenuity and productivity of manufacturing:

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Your ideas to solve technical skills shortages?

Posted by Bert Maes on February 21, 2011

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The talent pool is not growing fast enough to meet future demand.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the US may face a shortfall of almost two million technical and analytical workers and a shortage of several hundred thousand nurses and as many as 100,000 physicians over the next ten years.

In aerospace, 60 percent of the workforce is aged over 45 years old compared with 40 percent in the overall economy.

We could alleviate such shortages, according to MGI, by

  • removing barriers to older workers staying in the workforce longer (e.g., altering disincentives in how health care costs for older workers are allocated; addressing defined benefit rules);
  • improving incentives to technical and analytical training (for example through innovative funding mechanisms and direct links between jobs and educational institutions);
  • and reducing barriers to the immigration of skilled workers.

Dear reader: have you got more ideas?

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[Research] Start STEM education way earlier: from 5 through 9 years!

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2010

Four researchers in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, biology, and education have found evidence that should transform our educational practices in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Their research is demonstrating that young children have the capacity to learn more than anyone previously imagined. Their key finding is that acquisition of information by the human brain is most rapid and efficient from birth to the preteenage years.

Our current pattern in formal science education is focused on 14-16-year-olds. By this point, however, we have entirely missed the optimal learning period for children, and the optimal moment to get young people attracted to science, engineering and manufacturing. The period from kindergarten through 4th grade is “a peak window of opportunity for teaching basic science concepts.

According to Bayer – regardless of gender, race or ethnicity – interest in science begins in early childhood. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents say they first became interested in science by age 11. This parallels the findings of a 1998 Bayer survey of American Ph.D. scientists: six-in-ten also reported interest in science by age 11.

It is important though that formal and informal science learning at such early age is embedded in social interaction. Human children readily learn through social interactions with other people.

Children spend nearly 80% of their waking hours outside of school. They learn at home; in community centers; in clubs; through the Internet; at museums, zoos, and aquariums; and through digital media and gaming. Encourage children as early as possible to play with construction toys, take things apart and put them back together again, play games that involve fitting objects into different places, draw, and work with their hands. These activities are often highly social and as such they maximize motivation and influences children’s interests, goals, and future choices.

In formal school settings, research shows that individual face-to-face tutoring is the most effective form of instruction. Students taught by professional tutors one on one show achievement levels that are two standard deviations higher than those of students in conventional instruction. One-to-one instruction in science at a very early age, combined with new learning technologies provides an interactive environment with step-by-step feedback, feed forward instructional hints to the user, and dynamic problem selection.

From the article The Future of Manufacturing is in the 3rd Grade: “It appeals to students with hands-on, project-based courses where students have fun while applying the fundamentals of science. (…) Students learned to make cars out of paper, catapults out of mouse traps and robots using computer software.

The benefits of such system are huge:

  • Create an immediate, strong engagement and intense connection with engineering from an early age.
  • Educational technology (for example, text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter) as social interaction tools can extend the sensitive period for learning.
  • Programs enhancing early social interactions produce significant long-term improvements in academic achievement, social adjustment, and economic success.
  • If you would add science as a subject at an early age you give the right input and the right learning opportunities at the right time to bring our economy the essential manufacturing specialists.

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Today’s most compelling value propositions in manufacturing and education

Posted by Bert Maes on June 24, 2010

Margaret Heffernan

It was Margaret Heffernan -CEO, speaker and writer- who started an impassioned debate two days ago, with a simple thesis: Innovation’s Over — Price Is Back: Today’s consumers will not settle for the multi-featured, most inventive solutions. Instead they choose the cheaper ones, those that are ‘good enough‘, those that bring ease of use and peace of mind, the ‘generics‘ that still meet the quality demands.

She got 84 comments so far – which is impressive, I think. The biggest part says this is ridiculous and for sure not a general trend. Others are more thought-provoking:

  • The more unique a product category, the less price makes a difference. The right innovations such as the iPad and iPhone are selling. The more a product becomes a commodity item, even with the finest of innovations, price beats all (comment #5 – kmit solutions). Different goods will employ different forms of pricing strategies (comment #46 – waisingster).
  • True innovation would be to bring all those features to market at a cost lower than the traditional-product competition. That’s a game changer (comment #8 – shadrach723). Lower prices with more features makes the product accessible for a much larger segment of the market who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the (pricier) original product (comment #51 – bdegon).
  • This is just a result of the crisis period, of a new reality, it’s nothing shocking with a slightly higher price sensitivity in bad economic times (comment #59 – pehthor): consumers don’t like cheap, aren’t looking for cheap, but today they just have less dollars and are more conscious of how they use this limited resource (comment #15 – SuzanneJazz), they are weighing absolute price more heavily than absolute value (comment #20 – marti barletta). For today’s consumer newness isn’t as sexy as it has been in the past (comment #58 – esinger999).

What does this mean for manufacturing businesses and… for technical schools?

Just be completely different, make your solution stand apart in fundamental ways, otherwise you will end up in a fierce (price) competition.

And being different, what could that mean today?

Just what Scott Berkun reported in Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘Good’ beats ‘innovative’ nearly every time.

Scott Berkun

All you need, Scott says, is the ability to make things that are good consistently, since few companies do. In retrospect, the successes of the now best companies seem amazing, but at the time, the goals were simple and the objective humble and clear: be good, or at least better than the other guys. For they knew that alone was hard enough.

Their success or failure is driven less by revolutionary ideas or radical disruptive breakthrough thinking and more by a focus on making solid, reliable, simple, good products that solve real needs people have. Most innovative products simply fail because creators become distracted by their egos from the true goal: to solve real problems for real people.

One way a product or service can be powerfully differentiated is by taking away features, achieving a core simplicity that appeals to overtaxed consumers. Or it can be what Sean Silverthorne wrote in the same article: Look at the MINI Cooper: does that remind you of any other car? Does an Apple PC look and feel like a “me too” model from Dell or Acer?

Simplifying lives, being unique, saving time and costs, and making work time more enjoyable seem to me like the new compelling value propositions, for enterprise workers, for teachers and for students…

Visit for a program that makes the professional lives of teachers a lot easier, saves schools a lot of money and gives the students more fun in the mechanical/CNC manufacturing classroom.

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[Video] Commitment to Manufacturing in Austria

Posted by Bert Maes on June 23, 2010

ÜAZ Metall Vorarlberg in Austria joined the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) program; THE partnership concept and international network for advanced, industry-relevant, inspiring CNC (Computer Numerical Control) manufacturing education across Europe.

Script in English:

This is the ÜAZ technical training establishment, in Vorarlberg, in the western-most region of Austria. On May 7th the school held a celebration to mark its fifth anniversary and the official opening of its Haas Technical Education Centre, which was set-up with the help and support of the Austrian Haas Factory Outlet – a division of Wematech.  The new, benchmark facility is part of the ÜAZ Metall department and boasts 28 Haas CNC machine tools, making it one of the three largest HTECs in the world.  Haas Automation launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter the shortage of young people with CNC machining skills who were entering the precision engineering sector. ÜAZ Metall offers practical training to youths who are socially or economically disadvantaged. “Our goal,” says Manfred Gollob “is to provide a top-quality technical education for youngsters who have fewer opportunities than others. We try to give the best technical education to students who are unfamiliar with the metalworking sector. We’re grateful to Haas for their help and support and we hope our collaboration continues for a long time to come.” The ÜAZ Metall HTEC will give 100 students a year the hands-on experience they need to make better lives and successful careers as CNC technologists.

Script in German:

Das ist das überbetriebliche Ausbildungszentrum (ÜAZ) in Vorarlberg in der westlichsten Region von Österreich.  Am 07. Mai beging die Schule feierlich den 5. Jahrestag ihrer Gründung und die offizielle Eröffnung ihres HTECs, das mit Hilfe und Unterstützung durch das österreichische Haas Factory Outlet (HFO), einer Sparte von Wematech, eingerichtet wurde.  Diese neue, Maßstäbe setzende Einrichtung ist Bestandteil des ÜAZ-Metall und gehört mit 28 CNC-Werkzeugmaschinen von Haas zu den drei größten HTECs weltweit. Haas Automation hat sein HTEC-Programm im Jahr 2007 ins Leben gerufen, um mehr Auszubildende für die Arbeit an CNC-Werkzeugmaschinen in der Präzisionsfertigung zu interessieren und so dem Mangel in diesem Bereich zu begegnen. Das ÜAZ-Metall bietet sozial oder wirtschaftlich benachteiligten Jugendlichen eine praktische Ausbildung an. „Unser Ziel besteht darin“, erklärt Manfred Gollob, „den Jugendlichen, die bisher weniger Chancen hatten als andere, eine technische Spitzenausbildung zur Verfügung zu stellen. Wir versuchen den Auszubildenden, die ansonsten keine Berührungspunkte mit der metallverarbeitenden Industrie haben, das bestmögliche technische Wissen vermitteln. Wir bedanken uns bei Haas für die Hilfe und Unterstützung und hoffen, dass unsere Zusammenarbeit noch lange andauern wird.“ Jedes Jahr werden in dem HTEC des ÜAZ-Metall 100 Auszubildende genau die Erfahrungen sammeln, die sie für eine erfolgreiche Laufbahn als CNC-Spezialist und ein besseres Leben benötigen.

Script in French:

Le centre est implanté à l’établissement de formation technique ÜAZ, basé à Vorarlberg, dans l’extrême ouest de l’Autriche. Le 7 mai dernier, à l’occasion de son cinquième anniversaire, l’école en a profité pour inaugurer son centre de formation technique Haas, mis en place avec l’aide et le soutien du HFO (Haas Factory Outlet) autrichien, une division de Wematech. Ce nouveau site étalon fait partie du département Metall de l’établissement ÜAZ et compte 28 machines CNC Haas, faisant de lui l’un des trois plus grands centres HTEC du monde. Haas Automation a lancé le programme HTEC en 2007 afin d’endiguer la pénurie de jeunes gens dotés de compétences d’usinage CNC dans l’industrie de la mécanique de précision. ÜAZ Metall propose une formation technique aux jeunes socialement ou économiquement défavorisés. « Notre objectif est d’offrir une formation technique de haute qualité aux jeunes jouissant de moins d’opportunités que les autres, » explique Manfred Gollob. « Nous visons à inculquer à des étudiants étrangers au secteur du travail des métaux la meilleure formation technique possible. Nous sommes reconnaissants à Haas pour son aide et son soutien et espérons que notre collaboration durera encore très longtemps. » Chaque année, le centre HTEC ÜAZ Metall permettra ainsi à 100 étudiants d’acquérir l’expérience pratique dont ils ont besoin pour parvenir à une vie meilleure et embrasser des carrières florissantes en tant que technologues CNC.

Script in Italian:

Si tratta dello stabilimento di formazione tecnica ÜAZ a Voralberg, nella regione occidentale dell’Austria.  Il 7 maggio la scuola ha festeggiato il suo 5º anniversario e l’inaugurazione ufficiale del suo centro HTEC che è stato allestito con l’aiuto e il supporto dell’Haas Factory Outlet austriaco, una divisione di Wematech. Il nuovo impianto di riferimento fa parte del dipartimento ÜAZ Metall e vanta 28 macchine utensili CNC Haas, il che lo rende uno dei tre più grandi centri HTEC al mondo. Haas Automation ha lanciato il programma HTEC nel 2007 per contrastare la carenza di giovani con competenze di lavorazione CNC che accedevano il settore dell’ingegneria di precisione. ÜAZ Metall offre corsi di formazione pratica ai giovani provenienti da ambienti socialmente o economicamente svantaggiati. “Il nostro obiettivo”, spiega Manfred Gollob, “è offrire un’istruzione tecnica della massima qualità ai giovani che dispongono di meno opportunità degli altri. Cerchiamo di offrire la migliore istruzione tecnica agli studenti che non hanno dimestichezza con il settore della lavorazione dei metalli. Siamo grati ad Haas per il suo aiuto e per il suo supporto e speriamo che la nostra collaborazione possa proseguire a lungo in futuro”. Il centro HTEC ÜAZ Metall offrirà a 100 studenti l’esperienza pratica di cui hanno bisogno per migliorare la loro qualità di vita e crearsi una carriera come tecnici CNC.

Script in Russian:

Это техническое учебное заведение ÜAZ в Форарльберге, на самом западе Австрии. 7 мая в данном учебном заведении проходил праздник пятой годовщины с момента его открытия и официального открытия Центра технического обучения Haas, который был создан благодаря помощи и поддержке официального представительства Haas в Австрии – отделения Wematech. Новый эталонный центр образования является частью факультета ÜAZ Metall и обладает более чем 28 станками Haas с ЧПУ, делая его одним из трех самых крупных HTEC в мире. Компания Haas начала реализацию программы HTEC в 2007 году с целью противостоять нехватке молодых людей в точном машиностроении, обладающих навыками работы на станках с ЧПУ. ÜAZ Metall предлагает практическое обучение для молодежи из малоимущих семей или социально неблагополучной среды. «Наша цель, – рассказывает Манфред Голлоб (Manfred Gollob), – обеспечить высшее качество технического образования для молодых людей с меньшими возможностями, чем у других». Мы хотим предоставить лучшее техническое обучение студентам, незнакомым с сектором металлообработки. Мы благодарны Haas за помощь и поддержку и надеемся на достаточно продолжительное сотрудничество». ÜAZ Metall HTEC предоставит 100 студентам год практического обучения для улучшения их жизни и построения успешной карьеры в качестве технологов ЧПУ.

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How to attract more students to technical education? PART 1: the problems

Posted by Bert Maes on April 23, 2010

One critical challenge keeps me going daily: “How to attract more students to technical / manufacturing education?

While, I see many action possibilities, the most important answer might be: finding something appealing to students “that’s not disingenuous and on which they can put their own creative mark”.

Technical education above all should encourage children’s’ creativity. But schools are often doing the opposite. I quote:

  • “We encourage our children to be expressive and make things. Then, suddenly, we switch gears, leaving them with the impression that art class is as extracurricular as baseball and not nearly as important as, say, English or math” (Nicholas Negroponte in Being Digital)

  • It’s more than ironic that a generation that celebrates the iPod, can’t live without its cell phones and share its most intimate videos on YouTube is increasingly turning away from the technological fields that enable today’s youth culture. (John Kao in Innovation Nation)
  • Among 7-11 year olds, art, design and technology are favorite subjects. Children say they prefer these subjects because they enjoy the design and building element and the opportunity to be creative. But a couple of years later, between 11 and 16, only 18 % still perceives engineering as a desirable career. (

  • Ask a class of first graders which of them thinks they’re creative and they’ll all put their hands up. Ask a group of college seniors this same question and most of them won’t. I believe passionately that we are all born with tremendous natural capacities and that we lose touch with many of them. (Ken Robinson in The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything)

So, dear Reader, what’s the problem? Why does this happen?

Sir Ken Robinson points to four reasons:

1) Parental expectations

We, as parents, are trying to do very best for our kids and provide opportunities that will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults, right? However, we often steer our kids away from their true talents on the assumption that they have to follow conventional routes to success.

There is a whole system of social roles and expectations in our local communities that is dictating our future: “Don’t take a dance program, you can’t make a living as dancer,” or “I’m not paying for you to be a philosophy major” or “You’re good at math, you should become an accountant”.

Money is the focus of many parents, whereas money is not extremely important for kids, they don’t want some lousy expensive car, they want something meaningful with their lives, they want ‘excitement’.

It seems like getting a Ph.D. or some boring job is key to being successful in life. We believe we are giving these messages for their own good, but this way we actually discourage our kids from taking a particular path. A path on which they can do what they love to do. A path on which they can do and make the things they feel born to do or to create.

2) Peer pressure

Besides pressure from our parents, there is the pressure to conform to the standards and expectations of friends. Kids want to be like their peers, but just in case they have any funny ideas, their peers are quick to remind them of the penalties of being different. We often deny our deepest passions to stay connected with our peers. At school, we disguise an interest in physics because our circle finds it uncool. If you’re doing science, you’re a geek; if you’re doing art or dance, you’re effete. You’re trapped in a compulsion to conform.

3) Implicit beliefs in our culture

Beyond the social constraints we may feel from families and friends, there are others that are implicit in the general culture. The natural instinct of children is to copy and imitate, and as they grow they absorb not only the sounds they hear but the sensibilities they express and the culture they convey. In our local community, we learn ways of thinking, feeling and relating. Such constraints inhibit our passions when they seem inconsistent with the culture. That is exactly why it is so difficult to attract women to manufacturing.

4) Uncommitted teachers

Education should be one of the main processes that unleash the unlimited creativity of people. School should be the place where you discover what you love to do.

School should be the place where you can experience the “flow; the moment where hours pass, and it feels like minutes; the moment where you ignore everything and just concentrate passionately. You forget about the rest of the world and get completely focused and intent, living in the moment.

Eric Clapton describes it as being “in harmony with time. It’s a great feeling, there’s nothing like it”.

Mathematics for instance can be an ideal subject to reach the “flow”. Math hides huge creative opportunities, but teachers often present math as an interminable series of puzzles to which someone else already knew the answers, and the only options were to get it right or wrong.

The whole process is usually so dull and repetitive. Teachers teach it the wrong way or at the wrong time.

Richard Branson for example was clearly bright, personable and capable of putting his mind to good use, but he was completely unwilling to conform to the school’s standard. He says: “In fact all the great entrepreneurs of my generation really struggled at school and couldn’t wait to get out and make something themselves.”

The current education system seems to systematically drain the creativity out of our children.

>> Dear Reader, do you see more issues related to attractive technical education??

Monday, I will be my usual practical and concrete self and come up with the post: Knowing this, how can we transform CNC manufacturing education? See you on Monday…

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VIDEO: A Short Video of Making a BMW Motorcycle

Posted by Bert Maes on March 16, 2010


This is just a short video about making a motorcycle. I like the integration of hands-on workers and robotics. You can really appreciate the programming and technology involved.

A comment from a viewer:  “Great bikes, of course, but big bummer to have so many robots replacing middle class jobs“.

An answer:

True, but a massive shortage of manufacturing workers forces us into dependence on technology, particularly robots. There will be many jobs for those people that have knowledge and skills in advanced, high-tech, sophisticated, highly automated manufacturing; for those people that create and program these powerful robots.

Manufacturing like this, with robotics will play an ever bigger role in health care, motorcycle building and lots of other industries.

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N° 38 in ‘careers with great pay and growth prospects’: MANUFACTURING ENGINEER

Posted by Bert Maes on March 9, 2010 and rated the top 50 careers with great pay and growth prospects
(November 2009)
Job title Job growth
(10-year forecast)
1 Systems Engineer 45%
2 Physician Assistant 27%
3 College Professor 23%
4 Nurse Practitioner 23%
5 Information Technology Project Manager 16%
6 Certified Public Accountant 18%
7 Physical Therapist 27%
8 Computer/Network Security Consultant 27%
9 Intelligence Analyst 15%
10 Sales Director 10%
11 Anesthesiologist 14%
12 Software Developer 28%
13 Pharmacist 22%
14 Occupational Therapist 23%
15 Nurse Anesthetist 23%
16 Software Product Manager 28%
17 Business Analyst, IT 29%
18 Attorney/Lawyer 11%
19 Physician/General Practice 14%
20 Human Resources Manager 13%
21 Senior Financial Analyst 34%
22 Physician/Obstetrician/Gynecologist 14%
23 Clinical Psychologist 16%
24 Psychiatrist 14%
25 Veterinarian 35%
26 Marketing Manager 14%
27 Speech-Language Pathologist 11%
28 Technical Writer 20%
29 Finance Director 13%
30 Telecommunications Network Engineer 53%
31 Director of Communications 17%
32 Hotel General Manager 12%
33 Securities Trader 25%
34 Account Executive 10%
35 Education/Training Consultant 22%
36 Corporate Paralegal 22%
37 Quality Control Engineer 20%
38 Manufacturing Engineer 20%
39 Computer Software Program Manager 28%
40 Applications Systems Analyst 29%
41 Senior Internal Auditor 18%
42 Commercial Property Manager 15%
43 Creative Director 26%
44 Pharmaceuticals Sales Representative 12%
45 Associate – Investment Banking 34%
46 Training & Development Manager 16%
47 Product Marketing Manager 14%
48 Quality Assurance Manager 16%
49 Financial Research Analyst 34%
50 Outside Sales Representative 12%

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Survey: Manufacturing Challenges in 2010

Posted by Bert Maes on February 19, 2010 published its 2010 Salary Survey about the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry today. A summary of the answers from 1,259 U.S. manufacturing managers:

Politics, Regulations & Competitive Position

  • Very unfavorable corporate income tax structure in comparison to other countries.  It is difficult to justify on-going manufacturing in the US at 32% rate VS Ireland at 12% or tax holidays in Malaysia. = Unfair competition from China because of their inflated currency, lack of environmental regulations, and government subsidizing of their industries.
  • Trying to make things at a low cost, but facing increasing safety regulations, rising costs of materials and the going green challenge and the environmental cost burden placed on U.S. manufacturers that is not reflected in the cost of imports.
  • Government denial that manufacturing is needed in this country so it can continue to be prosper and supply adequate jobs. Apathy on the part of our public leaders and a general lack of understanding by the public of the role of manufacturing in the wealth and welfare of the country. Lack of commitment to innovation and funding it.
  • Typically U.S. employees (non-production) have few rights compared to European and Asian employees. More laws needed to prevent massive cuts.

Workforce & EDUCATION

  • Finding machine shop employees and creating an engaged domestic workforce.
  • Young workforce with inexperience and overambitious expectations for responsibility and salary + Trying to motivate individuals — the younger workers only want to work 8 to 5
  • Lack of focus at the educational level; talented young people do not want to get into the field because it seems like a dying area.
  • Working with employees with lack of engineering knowledge and without a work ethic.

Business Operations

  • Moving into new technological advances with fabrication, robotics, and logistics execution based scheduling.
  • In my experience, the biggest challenge facing manufacturing in 2010 is the inability to internally recognize problems.

  • Keeping costs down without destroying the culture and without jeopardizing quality; Quality should always come before quantity.
  • The manufacturing industry has always been generally conservative – and with the downturn in the economy, the truly conservative companies are the ones who are faltering. Only the companies who invest in their technology and workforce during the downturn can survive.
  • New technology vs. old technology. Long time/older employees well versed in old technology. New employees/young employees better at new technology, but with little to no knowledge of old technology.
  • Loss of Intellectual Property to others
  • Obtaining the Capital Expenditures required to improve and upgrade equipment and facilities
  • Fighting the perception of short-term results, which leads to outsourcing
  • Lack of understanding of the cultural changes that need to happen at the Senior Leadership position

Check this chart:

Concerns of US manufacturing companies

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Do you have what it takes to be a TOP-GUN machinist?

Posted by Bert Maes on December 2, 2009

Computer numerical control (CNC) machining makes all manufacturing processes much easier by automating and speeding up the production of the everyday objects we all know.

What does it take to be a CNC specialist?

  • Above all; this is a job for creative minds – creators and makers. People that are willing to produce original, surprising and unusual ideas.
  • Highly creative people tend to be independent, nonconformist and unconventional. They are likely to have wide interests, greater openness to new experiences and a more cognitive flexibility and risk-taking boldness.
  • CNC machining is not as easy as you might think. You will have to acquire considerable expertise. It is often said  that in any chosen domain it takes 10 years of training and effort to fully master the necessary knowledge and skills to produce a work of genius. You can find many examples of genius CNC manufacturing on
  • Working with CNC machines means that you will be dealing with a lot of computer work. You have to be very familiar with computer operations.
  • You have to have knowledge about blueprint reading to know what to program the machine to do. This is because basic design concepts and construction is hinged heavily on blueprints.
  • CAD, blueprint & product specifications must be translated through CAM computer software into a machine-readable format.
  • CNC machines only understand commands in a specific programming language, so you will have to learn so called “G-codes” in depth.
  • You will have to be very familiar with machining operations: Which machine tools are for which job? How fast can the machine work? What is the rate of feed for the machine? What is the depth of the cut needed for the operation? How do I measure that? What are the right tools and cutting sequences, with efficiency and safety in mind? How should I install the most solid workpiece clamping and positioning solution? What is the best coolant and lubrication mix and how should I regulate and adjust the flow to material needs?
  • You must be able to interpret data in the program output stack, comparing test results with design specifications
  • In case of any glitch, you will need to learn to perform programming edits and restructure the program quickly.
  • You will have to control and prevent damage to tools, materials, or machinery during the production cycle.
  • Of course cleaning and removing any waste material in a safe manner is part of the job.

Last, but not least: salaries are very negotiable: companies take care of their CNC specialists as there is always a shortage of skilled enough people to take hold of the position. In Europe, people on manufacturing earn 9% more than others…

The benefits are solid. Think about this career. Check and for the best CNC schools.

This post is based on:



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Robotics draws students to math, science, teamwork

Posted by Bert Maes on November 5, 2009

Kids don’t like maths.

I talked about that in a previous post. I said that we’ll need better marketing, better teaching and better training equipment.

NASA Robot

NASA Robot

A BEST PRACTICE of this vision is ROBOTS in the classroom:

Teaching in robotics is an excellent way to engage students in science and math in a hands-on way.

It’s so empowering to children to build something and program it to do something, and it does it. It’s better than any video game.” (Karlicia Berry, teacher Ponderosa Elementary School in Post Falls)

Kids get engaged and turned on while learning to build and write algorithms and program robots, i.e. while applying serious engineering.

And, believe it or not, reports that this approach leads to careers in engineering and technology.

The students participating in the robotics project were nearly twice as likely to major in science or engineering and more than twice as likely as students in a comparison group to expect a career in science or technology.

More: Why “Generation Y” Loves Robots

More: Creating a Buzz: Robot Camp


Robotics draws students to math, science, teamwork
Teaching in robotics is an excellent way to engage students in science and math in a hands-on way

It’s so empowering to children to build something and program it to do something, and it does it. It’s better than any video game.”

Kids get engaged and turned on while learning to build and write algorithms and program robots, while applying serious engineering.

And, believe it or not, this approach leads to careers in engineering and technology. The students participating in the robotics project were nearly twice as likely to major in science or engineering and more than twice as likely as students in a comparison group to expect a career in science or technology.

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