The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Manufacturing and What It Takes To Be a Fortune 500 CEO

Posted by Bert Maes on April 22, 2011

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Adam Bryant - Author of The Corner Office

Yesterday I posed a video in which the former CEO of Intel tells us that the most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today engineering education is. Today I am reading Adam Bryant’s post on what it takes to lead a Fortune 500 company, a start-up, and, yes, a school.

The five skills Bryant found -in interviewing more than 70 chief executives- can and should be learned in school. Manufacturing and engineering classes are the ideal tools for that purpose. After all, engineering courses can promote the qualities Bryant distilled: fascinated how things work, ask the right questions, critical analysis, questioning data, communicate ideas successfully, transfer knowledge to new contexts, creative problems solving.

The perseverance, the precision, the determination and the out-of-the-box thinking needed to manufacture something, turn out essential for a CEO and for day-to-day life.

Here are the five essentials for success — qualities that most of the Fortune 500 CEOs share and look for in people they hire.

  • Passionate Curiosity: What, ultimately, is the CEOs job? “To be a student of human nature.” The CEOs are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they are the best students. They always want to learn everything, they are engaged with the world, fascinated with everything around them, and want to understand anybody with asking the questions: Why do you do that? How come it’s done this way? Is there a better way? It is this relentless questioning that is their greatest contributions to their organizations.
  • Battle-Hardened Confidence: For leaders status quo is not an option. They own the challenges with perseverance, purpose and determination. They make mistakes, don’t look for excuses, dust themselves off and keep fighting the next day. They say “Got it. I’m on it.” – Words that are music to a manager’s ears.
  • Team Smarts: They understand how teams work, sense how people react to one another, recognize the players the team needs, know how to bring them together around a common goal and how to get the most out of the group. The greatest players might not be the stars, but those will get you the ball and then be where you’d expect to put it back to them. The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people.
  • A Simple Mind-Set: Most executives expect people to be concise, get to the point, make it simple… Yet few people can deliver the simplicity and focused thinking of a 10-word summary of his or her idea, get to the conclusion first, starting with “Here’s what’s important …” or “The bottom line is … .”
  • Fearlessness: [CEOs are] looking for calculated and informed risk-taking, but mostly they want people to do things–and not just what they’re told to do…. They want people to shaking up status quo, not necessarily because things are broken, but because they can be much better and should be much better.

However, it should be noted that all of these are personal traits cannot make individual leaders do it all–turning around companies and schools by virtue of their energies. The organization settings and context interferes. Saviors with the right personal traits might make a difference if they adapt to and work with the new setting rather than repeat behaviors that seemingly worked elsewhere. Think: transfer knowledge to a new context.

Engineers and manufacturers are trained such that they can take a problem and design a solution that meets the requirements, by working in team, by taking information from various fields and apply that information to solve problems.

It looks to me that engineering and manufacturing classes can prepare you for the challenges of the real world. If you can survive the challenges of manufacturing school, you can probably survive the challenges of a CEO too…

Is that the reason why the most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today is engineering education?

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[VIDEO] Craig Barrett: “To be able to go forward, you need knowledge of Engineering”

Posted by Bert Maes on April 21, 2011

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If you have a few minutes of time, please listen to Craig R. Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corporation about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – or read his main thoughts below:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is the foundation of what the 21st century has to hold in terms of economic development. It is the foundation of the future.
  • Every industry you can think about that is really key for the 21st century is founded in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are required to go forward. The economy’s future is very dependent on the quality of the workforce. They are the ones that add more value. To be able to innovate, to be able to add value, to be able to do something new, you need the best educated workforce WITH knowledge Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • The most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today is in fact engineering education. It shows that problem solving and math is driving business going forward.
  • The only way to go forward is improving STEM education. That is not only the role of government or a school district. The private sector needs to get involved and rally together with financial support, advocacy support and program support.

Craig R. Barrett hits the nail on the head, isn’t it?

Have a look what Haas Automation is doing in the field of CNC Manufacturing with the Haas Technical Education Center program: It brings Craig Barrett’s vision into practice.

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Great Thoughts

Posted by Bert Maes on April 19, 2011

What would you like to add?


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Psychology Today: Whose Children Will Get the Best Jobs in the 21st Century?

Posted by Bert Maes on April 14, 2011

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Automation and computerization are doing a lot better than humans in repetitive tasks and calculations. Computers will always have the edge on that.

But there are plenty of things computers cannot do. Focusing on the right skills in upbringing, education and training will give students the top jobs with the most satisfaction.

Without the below higher-order cognitive skills, your children will only be prepared for assembly line work in manufacturing or service. They won’t be able to compete on the global employment market.

The best, most creative, and personally rewarding jobs will go to applicants who have the skills in:

  • Question and evaluate the data
  • Willingness to consider alternative perspectives
  • Articulately communicate ideas successfully
  • Ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts
  • Mental focus, visualize goals, planning ahead, resisting immediate gratification
  • Collaborate with other experts on a global playing field
  • Creative problem solving & concept development

These skills are mainly a result of the development of the prefrontal cortex. That control center changes most rapidly in the age range of 8-16. That is the most optimal learning period for children to start developing the right skills.

Stimulating the brain circuits during these years with hands-on project where students have fun while applying the fundamentals of science strongly influence the highest thinking skillsets that both build wise men and women and determine the best opportunities in the global job market.

Source: Psychology Today

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Finland Gets Its First Haas Technical Education Center

Posted by Bert Maes on April 11, 2011

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Finland is one of the world’s strongest nations for manufacturing and education. But often the link is missing between schools and the local CNC enterprises. Haas Automation now partnered with the North Karelia College of Technology  and Culture in Joensuu to build those connections towards the best professional training.

As well as being the most northerly, this is also the first Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) in Finland,” says Bert Maes, HTEC coordinator for Haas Automation Europe. “The OECD acknowledges that the country is one of the world’s strongest nations for manufacturing and the quality of its education. We’re delighted to support the next phase of excellence: building long-term collaboration between technical schools and CNC firms.

Jyrki Turunen, school principal said: “Our vision for the students and for industry in North Karelia is focused on one, very important goal: to create a modern learning environment that will enable us to encourage and nurture ‘super technicians’ who will go farther in their education and careers than they or anyone else can currently imagine. We want to make CNC so interesting that it absorbs them during the daytime, and so fascinating that when they go home they dream about it at night.”

In 2004 and 2008 North Karelia College earned the Quality Award for Vocational Education and Training from the Ministry of Education. Last year it came second. Ara Hayrabedian, international coordinator at the college believes that being part of the HTEC programme will help the school secure the number one spot again. “The partnership with Haas Automation and its Finnish representative Grönblom brings a new way of thinking. Their support is helping us to develop new methods of teaching, to increase the motivation and to improve the skills of the young people who study here. We will also benefit from the international connections that the HTEC program brings, when we establish links with other HTECs across Europe.

Representing the local Haas distributor Oy Grönblom Ab, Petteri Heinonen voiced the view of all those actively engaged in supplying and using manufacturing technology. “Technical education should closely follow industry’s development and needs,” he said. “In the future manufacturing will be more and more technology-driven. Students at the North Karelia College will get the best opportunities and companies will get the skills they need thanks to the professional training and the Haas CNC machine tools the college is now providing.

Students at the North Karelia College of Technology and Culture, Joensuu, Finland (Pohjois-Karjalan Ammattiopisto), will be instructed on three Haas CNC machine tools (a TL-1 Toolroom Lathe, a TM-1 Toolroom Mill, and an SL-20 CNC turning centre) and a range of state-of-the-art production equipment supplied by the HTEC industry partners.

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Don’t sell a product or a course. Sell a community. 12 Tips.

Posted by Bert Maes on April 7, 2011

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Since a long time I am thinking about the most important rules for success as a sales professional, success as a teacher, success as a principal and even success as a student.

My last month’s experiences during trips to schools in Portugal, Germany, Finland and Norway, and 2 articles (here and here) might have given me the answer:

  • Every single person is situated in the middle of potential resources.
  • And every single person is driven by two fundamental social needs: the need to belong and the need to be significant.
  • To meet those two needs we only have to strengthen the relationships with others, with those potential resources.

For sales professionals I believe this means:

  • Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.
  • Top sales pros know that success in life isn’t the money you make, but the relationships you build.
  • Accentuate your product’s potential for relationship building.
  • Value the relationship more than making your quota. Think end-of-time friendships not end-of-month totals.
  • You’re first order of business: connecting your customers with each other. Think about how much our lives are driven by peer recommendation these days.
  • Become a trusted advisor that people seek out; not someone  pushing product to anyone that will listen.
  • Be passionate about share of customer not share of market.
  • Sell people a good product and they will like you. Connect them with their peers and they will love you.

For education professionals:

  • Engage students. Create flow experiences through projects and events that not only bring fun and excitement, but also help them to build social connectivity.
  • Get students involved as early as possible in deciding what to teach. It is a big thing for teenagers to have their opinion count.  In school, that can make a big impression with small but meaningful acts. Young people are looking for platforms on which they can tell their own story.
  • Create tools and projects that connect and make your students the stars.
  • If you can offer students a better way to belong, a better way to be significant, and a better way to connect to and impress their peers than what’s already out there, then your students will invest their time into the community, the project and the events you create for them.

Maybe the biggest challenge facing schools that want to attract more students to their manufacturing departments is the right focus on connectivity.

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The give-me-economy versus the make-it-economy

Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2011

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I have been lucky to visit Honduras in Central America. Honduras is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere.

The Belgian backpacker Geert Van Vaeck who started his own ViaVia Travellers Café nine years ago in Honduras told me that he doesn’t expect decent economic or social change in the future. “Politicians and civilians here are used to just receiving money in the form of tips, without using it to build the community. We live here in a give-me-economy,” Geert said.

But not only Honduras is a nation of takers. Your country is nation of takers too. “We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers,” Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal claims. “Don’t expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government”, with a career offering lifetime security, no risks. “It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we’ve gotten. Government jobs are being considered a life time job with rich benefits; all of which get paid by the taxpayers!

In a recent study of Apple and Goldman-Sachs financials by John Cassidy of The New Yorker, it is estimated that the average Apple employee makes $46,000 per year. That same study concluded that at Goldman-Sachs the average salary is $430,700 per year. One of those companies “makes” a product that is sold and the other… manages money.

An economy grows by making things, not by taking things. The economy is built and financed through manufacturing. Losing manufacturing is like stopping the motor of the world.

More people should be ‘nation builders’, more people should go in manufacturing again.

(…and nation building does not mean bombing other countries…)

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Manufacturing in the backyard garage changes things

Posted by Bert Maes on March 29, 2011

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Manufacturing is very much alive. But you don’t see it. Manufacturing is an invisible sector that is building, making and creating all the things you are using every day. But you don’t know it.

What is happening in your backyard? There is probably someone in his or her garage making money transforming metal or aluminium into new products using his or her advanced skills and cutting edge technology.

These people in their small manufacturing businesses, often micro-factories occupying just a few square meters of floor space – probably working almost next to your home – are the driving force of your wealth and your quality of life. Economic growth is generated locally, not by nations. The source of prosperity is always local! And that wealth always involves manufacturing.

So the small manufacturing companies are not solely there to make money for themselves; they are playing a bigger role.

And I see that students are becoming very aware of that. Andrew Reynolds Smith of GKN told the audience at the recent Rebuilding UK Manufacturing Summit that young people want to go into manufacturing, because it is their best chance of changing things.

How can that be encouraged further?

We urgently need to build a strong educational system… That is our weakness. Manufacturing education IS economic development.

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Building long-term collaboration between education and manufacturing: Madeira, Portugal

Posted by Bert Maes on March 24, 2011

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A few weeks ago I established a new partnership with a school on the Island of Madeira. That is a most rewarding collaboration. See the story below.

Haas Automation Europe (HAE) is delighted to announce the Grand Opening of the first Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) on Madeira, Portugal.

The new facility was opened in Funchal on March 7th and forms part of the city’s Professional Skills Qualification Centre (Direcção Regional de Qualificação Profissional – DRQP). The Madeira archipelago is off the coast of North Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean, which makes this the most westerly of Europe’s 46 Haas Technical Education Centers (HTECs); almost 5000km by air from the most easterly facility.

As well as being covered by state TV, the HTEC Grand Opening event was attended by senior government official Sr. Francisco Fernandes, Regional Secretary of Education and Culture, and directors of DRQP Sra. Sara Relvas and Sra. Elda Pedro. After speeches and the presentation of the HTEC plaque, Sr. Fernandes told press and visitors why he thought the new workshop is important.

The DRQP now belongs to a network of engineering excellence,” he said, “giving students on the island access to strong international resources.” Sr. Relvas reiterated his comments, and added: “Because Haas Automation CNC machine tools are present at so many of the best international manufacturing companies, this HTEC will help our youth prepare themselves for opportunities in the rest of the European and international labour markets”.

The Funchal HTEC is in collaboration with the Portugal Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – a division of After Sales, S. A. The director and owner of After Sales, Carlos Vilas-Boas, was instrumental in setting-up the new facility, and the other 4 on the Portugal mainland. “As with all HTECs,” he said, “this new laboratory and workshop houses the latest CNC metal cutting and precision engineering technology. We see that having access to these facilities inspires and engages the students and their teachers, which makes us very proud and committed to continue working with the DRQP.”

Madeira is the second richest Portuguese region after Lisbon and boasts a per capita GDP higher than the EU average. However, the island generates much of its income from tourism, and food and wine production, which means youngsters who want to pursue a career in manufacturing have, traditionally, had few options but to travel.

Many of Madeira’s young people will leave the island and work on mainland Portugal, in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “We’re sure that the high-tech Haas CNC machine tools, the clean learning environment and belonging to our network of international HTEC centers will greatly contribute to the motivation, satisfaction and international career possibilities of these students.

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This is manufacturing’s moment – It is the moment to engage schools

Posted by Bert Maes on March 17, 2011

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At the March Leadership Summit from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute  and the new National Center for the American Workforce was pretty straightforward with a message we advocate since a decade:

She said that manufacturing simply can’t wait for the educational system to reform itself. It must take the lead and press for expansion of industry-education partnerships to infuse technology into school curricula, apply manufacturing principles in educational institutions and produce industry-based skills certifications.

Otherwise the lack of people coming through the school system with employable skills will continue to hamper the nation’s manufacturing’s competitiveness on the global stage.

She is confident about our ability to correct the problems and move forward to reclaim a leadership role in the world, but stated that it would take active participation by the manufacturing industry for this to happen.

On the other hand, DeRocco said in an earlier speech:

Manufacturers cannot do efforts in innovation and the workforce by themselves. Educational institutions at all levels must partner with the industry if we are going to produce both the technical and engineering talent that our sector demands and accelerate our innovation capacity. But we must be the ones to take the first step and now is the time. This is manufacturing’s moment. It is the moment to engage high schools, colleges, and universities as they are under pressure to reform. It is the moment to reach out to young people and offer them a job, a career, and future they can be proud of.

What is your opinion?

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[VIDEO] How Manufacturing Made Slumdog Millionaire Win 8 Oscars

Posted by Bert Maes on March 16, 2011

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Slumdog Millionaire was the first movie shot mainly in digital to be awarded an Oscar for Best Cinematography. The camera that made this possible was the SI-2K Mini, an innovation from P+S TECHNIK in Munich, Germany – developed in collaboration with Silicon Imaging.

P+S designs and builds high-speed digital cameras, image converter equipment and complex rigs for 3D camera set-ups for the professional motion picture industry.

P+S professional cine equipment has also been used for the history-making epic film Avatar, contributing to 3 oscars: Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

Most stunning I find the slow-motion images shot using a Weiscam high-speed camera built by P+S. It already has held up to underwater, high speed, low light, minimum focus and maximum depth shooting.

More of such enterprising, creative mechanical engineers –like Alfred Piffl– capable of programming cutting-edge CNC machine tools will contribute to the creation of jobs, impact the nation’s wealth and in this case: win Oscars.


Follow P+S Technik GmbH on Facebook to see their contribution to a lot more 3D shootings.

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International Press Coverage HTEC Program – Jan/Febr 2011 – Selection

Posted by Bert Maes on March 6, 2011

Metall Austria, December 2010: Europäische Kommission fördert erstes europäisches HTEC-Austauschprogramm. “Das HTEC-Netzwerk erscheint für internationale Kontakte zwischen Bildungseinrichtungen, Lehrkräften un Lernenden im CNC-Bereich geradezu prädestiniert.”, DE, January 2011: “Teilweise im Ergebnis der Demo-Tage sind viele weitere Bildungseinrichtungen daran interessiert, sich uns im nächsten Jahr anzuschließen. 2011 möchten wir ein noch stärker motivierendes Programm mit noch mehr Chancen für die internationale Zusammenarbeit und den internationalen Austausch umsetzen.”

ITO Russia, January 2011: Европейская комиссия подтвердила первую Европейскую программу обмена студентами HTEC «Своими инвестициям Европейская комиссия подтвердила, что обмен студентами HTEC важен для европейской промышленности. Студенты не только будут ознакомлены с инновационными технологиями, но и смогут применять свои навыки в решении проблем, работать в коллективе, а также научатся адаптироваться к различным рабочим средам. Мы верим, что компании, которые наймут на работу данных молодых специалистов, приобретут огромную пользу от их знаний и международного опыта»

Machinery Market UK, February 2011: Innovation never stops “The 50 events were well attended by teachers and students. they were able to see live demonstrations on the new machines and were told how they can get involved in the Haas Technical Education Centres programme.” UK, December 2010: European Commission endorses first European HTEC Student Exchange. “Any school that commits to the HTEC program can benefit from international exchanges giving HTEC students wonderful opportunities to travel and learn.

Vraag en Aanbod, BE, January 2011 “We eindigen dit jaar met 44 onderwijsinstellingen in het Europese HTEC-netwerK. we streven ernaar het programma nog stimulerender te maken in 2011 met meer mogelijkheden voor internationale samenwerkingsverbanden en uitwisselingen.; NL, February 2011: Educatieve centra Haas Automation Europe brengen opleidingen op hoger niveau. “Door het initiatief van Haas voor deze HTECs, wat ook door de verschillende Europese overheden wordt toegejuichd en ondersteund, zijn de toekomstige verspaningsspecialisten goed op hun taak in het bedrijfsleven voorbereid.

L’Ammonitore, IT, February 2011 “Concludiamo quest’anno con 44 scuole partecipanti alla rete europea HTEC e, in parte a seguito degli eventi delle giornate dimostrative, con molte altre scuole desiderose di partecipare l’anno prossimo. Aspiriamo a creare un programma ancora più motivante nel 2011, con maggiori opportunità di collaborazioni e scambi internazionali”.

Macchine Utensili, IT, January 2011: La Commissione europea appoggia il primo scambio europeo tra studenti HTEC

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Where is the well oiled education system?

Posted by Bert Maes on March 1, 2011

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Manufacturing strengthens the financing balance of a country. The countries that have a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of manufacturing contributes to debts and impoverishment. Manufacturing clearly is a must to keep the rest of the economy going. Over time, leadership in manufacturing determines the economic winners and losers.

But manufacturing, invention and innovation depend for a very large part on the highly skilled employees. The most important thing to grow the industry is the quality and availability of the labor force.

We fail to motivate young people to work in manufacturing.

We’ve got an entire generation of kids who are ready to make their mark in the world, and we’ve got them sitting at desks in schools and in cubicles in companies. Many young people do not desire to sit in a cubicle. They want to have their brain fully engaged in a safe, clean environment.

A good example of a manufacturing company that understood this is Sewtec Automation. The enterprise has 9 multi-skilled programmers working directly on the shop floor using the machines directly.  They all feel actively involved in producing the final product. Young people brought the computer skills that are essential to the modern factory. They made it possible with the performance of 5 new Haas CNC machine tools to increase the productive hours by 850%. “We’ve made Sewtec an attractive place to work.

This type of company and this type of work, Mike Boyer writes, “requires a work force with above average mental strength -“IQ”- and a well oiled education system”.

And then technical vocational and trade courses are being reduced to deal with the budget battles.

How do the youth get trained for the jobs that exist today and will grow tomorrow when our aging workforce retires?Bob Trojan says. “Someone, somehow, somewhere, has to train our future manufacturing workforce.” Someone has to invest in technical schools to enhance resources and infrastructure. How do we otherwise put young creative hands-on people in position to work in a leading edge company?

To ensure future prosperity it is best to invest in those future earners.

With the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) program CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation is offering professional support to create motivating and inspiring learning environments with better CNC machining equipment, a facility infrastructure improvement concept and support in international relations.

We cannot save the world. But we can support with the technology part. For sure that is good for industry and for schools. And we just see it motivates students. Just that aspect is a great support for teachers. Educators need every bit of support possible!

Isn’t that so?

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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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A Longer-term View on Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on February 17, 2011

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Plenty of people are applying for jobs. But the unemployed don’t seem to have the skills needed for the world’s current and future challenges. And then I am talking about manufacturing – what else? 🙂

Manufacturers are increasingly automating their plants and laying off the low-skilled workers. Despite the growing amount of machines and robots, more people will be needed that have the ability to ensure production runs continuously and to solve issues – without down time.

Manufacturers are willing to hire again since the beginning of the year, due to good economic results. They specifically look to hire people who understand sophisticated computerized machinery in more than one process and people who are capable of resolving complex production issues, providing preventive maintenance, making routine repairs, and recognizing process improvement opportunities.

So the need for workers that can apply advanced problem solving and analytical thinking skills increases.

Those skills seem to be the main reason why companies offshore: the average cost savings achieved by offshoring declines, the potential for cost reduction alone is no longer enough to justify moving operations. But companies are still doing so -a Duke study says- “because of a domestic shortage of skilled workers, not a desire to save on labor costs”.

This indicates we are not making much progress in training high-skilled workers. In fact, investment in the training of the new workers has gone down over the last 25 years, Mike Collins says. Which means: manufacturers take less preventative maintenance actions and experience more emergency breakdowns.

What is needed is advanced training programs,” Mike Collins concludes. So why don’t we start with this: let us make it easier for teachers and schools to be successful: better tools make better schools. Every manufacturing company can contribute to that. Partnering with schools is one of the best investments in your long-term future.

“Long term” probably means at least seven to ten years. Did you know that Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years? In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm. And then we are worried about our future economic vitality.

Dominic Barton believes that having a long-term perspective is the competitive advantage of many Asian economies and businesses today. Consider the long journey of Toyota to become global leader or Hyundai which experienced quality problems in the late ‘90s but made quadruple sales in 3 years by reengineering its cars with a 10-year car warranty.

It is long-term value that needs to be maximalized. Manufacturers must have a perspective that serves the interests of the community. Communities more and more expects that local companies engage themselves. Customers plan to purchase more from socially responsible companies in the future. Just like investments in the environment, corporate investments in local schools build, maintain and improve corporate reputation and trustworthiness .

Better tools make better schools. Better schools make better tools for your future.

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Socrates and Jesus: True Manufacturing Craftsmen

Posted by Bert Maes on February 10, 2011

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Back in the days, craftsmen working in wood, stone and metal were professionals of high standing in the community. Joseph from Nazareth -for example- was a carpenter that was able to cut and trim trees, manage the forests so that people would have all the wood and lumber they needed in future generations,  he knew how to lay a foundation, design and erect walls and ceilings of private houses or public buildings. It is said that Joseph introduced his son Jesus to this active and demanding profession at an early age.

In his father’s workshop,” the French author Philippe Le Guillou writes, “Jesus had his preferred place: a beam supporting a platform that has never been built … While pulling off the bark of freshly cut wood, he inhaled the aroma that then floated in the workshop and into the house.  Jesus was still too young to accompany his father climbing into the mountains to choose and cut trees. Instead, he spent his time repeating the litany of names of the tools, an activity that never bored him. And he kept asking Joseph if he could use the block, the working bench, the wood shaping plane, the blades, the molds, the jointers, the wood chips,…[1]

Another example of wise people that were influenced by the manufacturing experience was Socrates, as reported by André Bonnard [2]. “Socrates was a laborer, born from working people. His father was one of the stonemasons who squared, sealed and polished the blocks that were used to build the Parthenon. Socrates enjoyed observing those craftsmen. He marveled at the accuracy the workers put in their gestures. He dreamed of doing the same: using a set of fixed rules to adapt a block of stone towards its end goal. A noble profession.”

This common experience of the workshop, the contact with the material may have “sculpted” the souls of Socrates and Jesus. Without a doubt the lessons they learned at their father’s right hand influenced the thinking of those young men. They must have experienced that the strength, the precision and the patience needed to work the stubbornness of the material are essential in day-to-day life too.

The family workshop in-formed them, probably less in their physical vigor, rather in their power of thought. The experience of resistance and roughness of things builds a great soul. The experience of true manufacturing craftsmanship builds wise men and women…

[1] Own translation from French : Philippe Le Guillou, Douze années dans l’enfance du monde, Gallimard, 1999, p. 39-40.
Own translation from French : André Bonnard, Socrate selon Platon, L’Aire, 1996, p. 16-17.

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The World’s Fastest Car – To Inspire Engineers

Posted by Bert Maes on February 8, 2011

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Construction work formally begins this week on what is expected to be the world’s fastest car. Called Bloodhound, the vehicle has been designed to reach 1,000mph (1,600km/h).

Even cooler is this: the project has been conceived to inspire school children around the world to take up science and engineering.


‘to inspire engineers’

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The Ideal Teacher and the Real Manufacturing Opportunities

Posted by Bert Maes on February 4, 2011

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Just yesterday I have been in France at what is called the WorldSkills France competition finals (Olympiades des Métiers), a big feast honoring young skilled craftsmen in industrial trades, including the trade of advanced manufacturing machining.

The hundreds of young students I have seen competing there were working so hard, so motivated, so energized and they were so proud of what they were creating. We actually made a video on the event that I will post later on when editing is done.

I was especially honored to also meet a machining teacher with 20 years of turning and milling practice and 24 years of teaching experience. For me he seems to be the ideal CNC teacher:

  • He doesn’t have a binder under his arm: he detests the teachers that focus all resources into book theory and do not offer a real hands-on degree.
  • He takes the time and has the kindness and patience to teach the practical basics in blueprint reading, engineering, design, metallurgy, materials, speeds and feeds, cutting tools, programming, math, safety, and communication. His students receive the breadth training that is required to sculpt a well-rounded, versatile machining specialist… far more than a button pusher, parts changer or a trained monkey at a CNC machine.
  • He battles constantly to always have access to the latest machining equipment. The world is changing at a dramatic pace and today’s young people are used to constant change and challenges. In order to attract them, the machining school department must continually develop to offer the tools and practices that show a future.
  • He lets students develop their own metal artwork for their final exams. He requires his students to be creative and to make anything they want to. Together they develop great projects. They never experience boredom.
  • He takes them outside the school to see metal pieces perform in the real world: planes, cars, medical devices, musical instruments, jewelery, all kinds of sports, and so on. That builds self-confidence and passion.

This guy makes schooling and the trade very interesting. Then, there is no end to the students’ engagement. He plants seeds for cultivating those young people to advance in the machining trade. His students even cried when he announced to leave his previous school. This teacher makes advanced machining manufacturing a fascinating career choice. All of his students were hired quickly.

This story is only successful because of the hard work of this teacher, school management, parents, and students. I hear many people say that young people do not want to work hard in school anymore: they take the route of least resistance; they want to make money with limited effort in no time. In this age obtaining information, communication, merchandise, food and practically anything is effortless at the touch of a button. So it should be the same for money, they think.

True, probably money can be made much faster by not pursuing a manufacturing career. But… who are the heroes of our economy? The talented, rough and intelligent individuals that start a manufacturing business in their garage and turn out amazing products. Computerized equipment, CNC machines, CAD/CAM, lean processes and the internet have greatly enhanced manufacturing job satisfaction, while reaching an audience they never could have 10 or 15 years ago.

An inspiring example is the story of Mike who started his own manufacturing company at the age of 15.

The opportunities to work, make money and grow in the metal manufacturing field are real.

  • Metals were one of the few durable goods where manufacturing increased in 2010. Employment in fabricated metal products manufacturing increased by 4.6%.

But those manufacturing companies have difficulties in recruiting the talented young machining experts having the right skills for their high-level job openings. All over France, school machining departments are being closed as they don’t get sufficient enrollment.

Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment and considering that in twenty years 90% of the current machinists are retiring, it is now more important than ever to do start better teaching with better equipment and better marketing for CNC manufacturing!

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What would make a big difference in improving manufacturing education?

Posted by Bert Maes on January 31, 2011

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The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning recently conducted a public opinion research. One of the questions was: “What would make a big difference in improving science education?

The results speak for themselves, and in my view can be generalized to CNC manufacturing education:

  • more resources for labs, better equipment and more supportive materials,
  • more specialized training for teachers
  • and more time for adequately teaching the subject to fully engage students in a strong program.

42% of people surveyed say that classrooms do not have the resources and equipment needed for STEM education…

>> Dear reader: what is your opinion on this???


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If students struggle with science, the country is in deep…

Posted by Bert Maes on January 26, 2011

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Most American students aren’t “proficient” in science, according to the new National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report.

  • Only 34% in fourth grade (9-10 years)
  • 30%  in eighth (13-14 years)
  • and 21% in 12th grade (17-18 years) scored proficient or higher

That means that less than one-half of students are demonstrating solid academic performance and competency in science.

Forty percent of students in twelfth grade lack basic skills in physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. Only one percent of high school seniors have the advanced science knowledge and skills that lead to careers in science and technology.

Science helps students further their understanding of our world, enabling them to connect ideas across disciplines and making them better problem solvers,” David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board (which oversees policy for NAEP), commented. The state of science education is troubling because, increasingly, making personal choices, like whether to vaccinate children or how much energy to use, requires an understanding of science, educators say. Some are convinced that science is the basis of almost everything. President Obama once said: “the problems we face as a nation are, at root, scientific problems.

But it seems that we are not focused enough on science and especially not on more advanced subject matter. We give less intense attention to advanced content regarded as fundamental by many other countries. We might pay a very high price as a society for that lack of focus.

Is it surprising than that we offshore labor?

High-tech American companies opting to hire offshore labor are doing so because of a shortage of skilled workers, not anymore a desire to save on labor costs, a new study by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business says.

Most American high-tech/telecom companies engaged in offshoring say the domestic shortage and scarcity of skilled workers — not cost cutting — is the primary reason why they move some job functions overseas.

There they can find the technical profiles in research and development, as well as administrative and sales/marketing specialists. Looks like we are losing our science and technology service jobs as well… Our service jobs will be offshored next, expert says in new book.

Then what??

And what do you think about this?? The report “An American Imperative: Transforming the Recruitment, Retention and Renewal of our Nation’s Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce” found that students who face economic disadvantages are more likely to have unqualified or minimally qualified math and science teachers…

Conclusion: Science and Manufacturing educators need every scrap of support!

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