BERT MAES

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

Posts Tagged ‘career’

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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If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on September 5, 2011


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Investment in the green economy and renewable energy today will help ensure our economies stay competitive in the future. But perhaps more importantly, right now investment in the green economy is creating new jobs for millions of job-seekers.

And guess what? If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

A great portion of jobs in the clean economy is in manufacturing-related segments.

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German manufacturers recruit professionals from Spain and Bulgaria

Posted by Bert Maes on July 25, 2011


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The German manufacturers lack skilled workers. So they are urgently looking for young engineers and experts in crisis-torn Spain. Initial negotiations are successful.

But kids in technical education have to know foreign languages!

High unemployment in Spain encouraged workers to emigrate

In Baden-Wuerttemberg alone, several thousand posts are vacant. We are now looking to the neighboring EU countries to acquire staff. The time seems favorable, because Spain experiences a very high level of unemployment, especially among young people. In Spain, many young engineers are unemployed,” said Dr. Beate Raabe of the Central Placement and Placement Services of the Employment Agency.

Since the beginning, the authorities have encouraged recruitment on the Iberian Peninsula. This pleases Ulrich P. Hermani, Managing Director of VDMA Baden-Wuerttemberg. “We strongly support the initiative and pushed to have this,” says Schwabe, who has personally appealed to the Regional Directorate of the Agency’s work.

Its member companies are hoping for well-trained professionals from the Spanish automotive industry. The mechanical and technical ability of the Spaniards are more than ever in demand between Friedrichshafen and Mannheim. And the Iberians seem ready for Teutonic challenges.

Wittenstein has already placed job advertisements in Spain

Wittenstein AG doesn’t have Spaniards yet, but they have placed job offers on site. Important for the company is that they know spoken and written German. German courses are available for Spanish experts.

The departure of the sun, paella and bullfighting is sweetened by a safe workplace and a long-term perspective, according to VDMA. “It is known throughout Europe, that Germany has come well out of the crisis and is looking for professionals,” the employment agency writes.

But Hermani, Association Manager, doesn’t expect a big rush. “We must not give ourselves the illusion that this will solve the skills shortage. There is not enough influx from abroad, and I mean all foreign countries,” Dr. Hannes Hesse adds, Executive Director of the VDMA, Frankfurt. He is counting on the students. “We think especially the foreign students are perfect immigrants. After the end of their studies, they should remain in Germany”.

Bulgaria also interesting for professionals recruitment

Nevertheless: his colleague Hermani looks to Eastern Europe and especially to Bulgaria, having a long tradition of mechanical engineering. In neighboring Hungary, many experts acknowledge, no specialists are available. A scenario for Spain? “With the recruitment of unemployed candidates, we relieve the Spanish labor market locally,” says Raabe of the employment agency.

But is it morally legitimate and economically sensible to make use of an ailing partner country and its expertise, and in retrospect support him with millions of euros, economists ask themselves.

Who is helping the Spaniards, to take advantage of economic misery in the absence of young professionals?

Source: MaschinenMarkt – Robert Weber

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The Truth about…Youth

Posted by Bert Maes on June 14, 2011


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What motivates young people around the world today? Money? Fame? Justice?

McCann Worldgroup asked that question to 7000 young people around the world: US, UK, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and Philippines.

 The same three motivations are ranked highly in every country.

 

And it is technology – most often their phone and laptop – which fuels the three motivations above. It is the deep relationship with technology that allows them to connect and to influence justice for a new era.

  • The need for connection and community is the most fundamental motivation for young people. They want to connect, share and broadcast through digital cameras, cheap editing software, design programs and blogging platforms.
  • For this reason: to be remembered, not for their beauty, their power or their influence, but simply by the quality of their human relationships and being loved by many people.
  • Connecting to a broader network of friends has replaced the need to belong to a tight-knit group of friends.
  • They long for new tools to broadcast, share, entertain, make new connections, beat their friends, and narrate their lives.
  • They avoid all impositions, rigid rules and structures where they can’t negotiate.
  • But these tools should come from people that really care. Youth is disgusted by corporate people doing good just to make themselves look good. From a young person’s point of view, the worst thing a brand can do us make a promise it doesn’t keep.
  • Young people want to change the world. Social media allows them to share information, to join groups on a wide range of topics (everything from corruption in politics to freedom of speech or human rights abuses) and to build networks of support and encouragement.
  • They believe technology brands like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook will solve most of the problems the word faces today, from environmental issues to food shortages, from freedom of speech to privacy and terrorism.

I am wondering how these technology brands will save the world.
Have you got insights for me?

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 5]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 10, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers

[FINAL] PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools

  • I notice that principals are usually committed to establish a unique school, with a sharper profile, a stronger competitive position while being the reference for the highest quality in instruction and quality learning for all students. The hope is that that results in attracting more students, more money and more working relationship possibilities towards the government, the community and where possible the international scene. That would bring more means to develop his teacher team further via continuous professional development.
  • Generally speaking, I find teachers have the need to be very valuable for the accomplishments of future generations, make a world of difference for their students, motivate them, keep them enthusiast, inspire them, being a true role model, as well as offer them the perfect start for a very secure, promising, rewarding career. Teachers usually are also interested in professional development and advancement to make their professional life easier, and give them more satisfaction in his job.
  • The private sector needs to get involved and rally together with financial support, advocacy support and program support. Schools are looking for good-will professional external agents that can offer guidance and support with forming allegiances with fitting training and professional development suppliers, providers of teaching materials, political and societal leadership, media, fundraisers or financial experts, architects and all other help for the school staff to choose practices appropriate to their needs.
  • What kind of business involvement does it take to truly make a difference in the education arena? Principals and teachers always have a clear passion, but they often lack the systems and tools to create change. To start with companies should study the challenges teachers and principals face. Companies can easily supply goods and services to schools, can make a commitment to continue funding in good and bad times, can offer support in HR, can try to attract national attention and exposure, can arrange employees to work as mentors etcetera. But it is not going to work if you don’t keep in mind three things:
    (1) you have to offer your support in (re)building the curriculum to meet the needs of our youth and the needs of local manufacturers.
    (2) business leaders need to be brought together to put pressure on governments. Serious reform requires changing policy, and that means use political resources, put pressure, push for smart policies and start political debate.
    (3) a lot of barriers are people.

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[VIDEO] Why Manufacturing is so Important to Each of Our Lives

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 4]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers

Simply put: manufacturers look for ready-trained, on-demand and enterprise-ready talent with following skills:

  • Ability to operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate high
    math proficiency
  • Ability to verify information, critically analyze, recognize patterns, analyze data sets, synthesize, creative
    problem solving and thus improve manufacturing processes.
  • Success in communicating ideas, participating on a diverse team, considering alternative perspectives,
    collaborate with other experts on a global playing field (languages!)
  • Ability to communicate in a variety of media, to participate in networks, and to navigate distributed
    organizations.
  • Track record of personal management, planning ahead and persistence and initiative demonstrating
    independent work and judgment
  • Management, legal and sales/marketing skills

But many companies seem to get disappointed by the quality of graduates from local training programs. In terms of competency as well as attitude (morale and timeliness).

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 3]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 6, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

  • Very often young people hear that they have to love math and science to be able to follow CNC. They hear that it is challenging, “but if you work hard you can do it”. And they never hear benefits and rewards of being an engineer. The messages emphasizing the challenge of math and science skills, clearly don’t work. Many students don’t enjoy math and science enough to become engineers and find it “boring” and “nerdy”.
  • The four messages that tested besttoward appeal and relevance are
    1. Engineers make a world of difference.
    2. Engineers are creative problem-solvers.
    3. Engineers help shape the future.
    4. Engineering is essential to our health, happiness, and safety.
  • Youngsters lose their attention in av. 3 minutes. They have no patience; they want to get information fast and quick on subjects that are visual, hands-on, actual, challenging, adapted to the needs of society, based on real-life problems with practical use for the youngster’s own life. They want direct action, direct results, and a respectful, passionate and authentic teacher.
  • Technical education should encourage their creativity. “We encourage our children to be expressive and make things. Then, suddenly, when they reach age 6 or 7, 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”.
  • This generation did growing up in a period with booming wealth. At home they have everything they want, in terms of high-quality goods. They want to keep the same standards outside their home, i.e. in schools and in their jobs. Young talent expects quality in class.
  • In school and on the work floor young people are looking for self-development and a fun time. Their choice of work and their choice of education should support that goal.
  • They are very eager to learn more, to see more, to develop themselves and especially to do what they like to do. In the first place it is not important how much money they get, but what is the most crucial: how much you’ll learn, how happy you’ll be, how much respect you get from your friends’ community, how much fun your colleagues will be, how good the job matches with personal interests and values. Young people don’t want huge salaries, if that means they don’t have time anymore for their family and friends.
  • Engage students. Create flow experiences through projects and events that not only bring fun and excitement, but also help them to build social connectivity. Create tools and projects that connect and make your students the stars. Don’t sell a course, sell a community. 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.
  • 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.
  • On open days young talent wants to hear about the role of manufacturing and how it is important to economic development, how manufacturing and the company is global, that the industry is alive and well, what the value is of what they are learning in school, what the products are that are being made, the possible jobs and wages, the advanced technologies, alternative energy or bio processes involved, and testimonials from young employees.

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers (June 8th)

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 2]

Posted by Bert Maes on May 31, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

  • Pupils are avoiding technical subjects, partly because of “substandard, inadequate facilities” All too often, technical schools are dark, dirty, old fashioned and depressing places with totally obsolete training equipment. This is not the type of environment in which young people want to invest 5-6 critical years of their lives.
  • It’s all about first impressions. If the first impression of a classroom is not good, you can’t touch and move young people to follow your manufacturing classes.  Welcoming environments reduce dropout rates. ”Talent demands an environment in which it can excel. Innovation comes from talented people working in the right environment with the right tools. Give talent the resources to create”.

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth (June 6th)

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers (June 8th)

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 1]

Posted by Bert Maes on May 27, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

  • The countries that enjoy a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of industry makes a country lose exports, lose income and lose standards of living for the citizens. Loss of manufacturing contributes to impoverishment.
  • Manufacturing makes a bigger contribution to exports than anything else. “It still contributes to 50% of all our exports,” says Sir Alan Rudge. “The only valid way to close the trade gap is something like 20% increase in manufacturing. Anything else is pure theory. Without manufacturing the economy would be a disaster. It is already weak and it would be much weaker.
  • The most powerful nations in the world are those that control the machinery that makes the goods. Jon Rynn shows that about 80% of the world’s production of factory machinery has been controlled by what we would consider the “Great Powers”. Until the 1950s, the US had produced about 50%; we now produce less than China’s 16%.
  • Machine tools and technological improvements in that machinery are the main drivers of economic growth. No machinery industries, no sustained, long-term economic growth. Machine tools lead to the explosive economic growth of the last two hundred years. A machine tool makes the metal components that not only go into other pieces of machinery, such as cars, but are used to produce yet more machine tools.
  • The modern factory is no longer a giant building filled with hundreds of interchangeable low-skill, low-wage full-time employees. With the right skills most manufacturing operations offer rewarding, creative career opportunities involving sophisticated equipment.
  • The problem of course is that manufacturing takes time to develop and change and be able to build up the markets. In financial services the actions can be taken a lot faster. Improving manufacturing output is clearly not a short term project.
  • Do you have any other important facts we should tell the youth of the nation?

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What Skills are Manufacturers Looking For?

Posted by Bert Maes on May 2, 2011


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If it were even possible to sum up change to the real world of today’s manufacturing in one sentence, it would be: “Fewer employees on more teams, using more technology to make crucial decisions more quickly.

Most production operations no longer require legions of employees who simply push buttons and follow an only occasionally varying routine. The modern factory is no longer a just giant building filled with hundreds of interchangeable low-skill, low-wage full-time employees.

Many growing manufacturing organizations report a greater need for workers with teamwork, decision making, technology, communication, and customer service skills.

Which key traits are most important to the immediate present as well as the future of manufacturing?

Changes in the required skills and traits for manufacturing personnel

To read the full article, click here.

Another article titled “The Future of Learning” reports on a 2020 forecast that outlines five surprisingly similar  learning priorities:

  1. Ability to verify information, recognize patterns, analyze data sets, and synthesize.
  2. Understanding of free enterprise and personal finance; appreciation of and ability to produce quality work products
  3. Success in making and critiquing an argument, participating on a diverse team, and dealing with paradox
  4. Ability to communicate in a variety of media, to participate in networks, and to navigate distributed organizations.
  5. Track record of personal management and initiative demonstrating independent work and judgment

This shows that the need for CNC machining specialists will grow in the next decade(s) and play a significant role in the future of manufacturing.

Most importantly, young people will need to bring high-tech skills and the ability to create more efficient manufacturing and supply chain processes and evolve in automated systems specialists and manufacturing process experts.


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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: http://haascnc.com/htec/ebook/ It brings Craig Barrett’s vision into practice.


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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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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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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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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.

BRILLIANT UK MANUFACTURING!

‘to inspire engineers’

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Educational Status Quo and Manufacturing Emergency

Posted by Bert Maes on December 15, 2010


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The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data have been released and pretty much show that in general the past 9 years not a lot changed. Nothing suggests that we have made either substantial progress or experienced a marked decline in basic skills in reading, math and science.

That is a decade of status quo in most of the Western world. And I have got the strong feeling that both education and manufacturing lack a sense of urgency and a contagious enthusiasm. There seems no great dissatisfaction with this status quo. There is no fire. There seems to be no pressing need.

That was different in October 1957: the Soviet Union beat us into space by launching a satellite known as Sputnik.  This immediately prompted fears that we had lost our worldwide dominance in the scientific arena and as a result were horrified by the thought of a space-based missile attack.

That was the wake-up call that caused the United States to boost investment in science and math education. Under the threat of national security, Congress immediately provided nearly $1 billion over four years to support improvements in teaching of science and mathematics, and fund low-interest loans for students pursuing higher education.

There we made a decision, we’ve put our minds to it, we got people together, we focused, we identified a very coherent and very particular vision of what to achieve, we formulated just a few very specific principles and above all: we got unified around an insistent, consistent and persistent shared practice.

And as a result, we not only did surpass the Soviets, we developed new technologies, industries, and jobs.

Since then, we have dismantled the essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. I am particularly thinking about two foundations of every economy: the education system and all manufacturing activities of building, creating, making life-saving things.

Both education and manufacturing have eroded rapidly. Investments have been neglected. This raises doubts about our future economic vitality, at a time when international competition from Asia and the Southern Hemisphere will pose serious challenges during this century.

It is only by creating great school cultures and great learning environments – where children truly can achieve great things and physically create a whole variety of great things – that we can be competitive internationally over the long run.

We cannot afford to cut back on creative technical education. But first we need to have a new sort of Sputnik event. We need a crack in the shell to move people. It seems to be very difficult for human beings to anticipate long-term forces in society and to jump over the walls of quick economic profitability, discomfort and immediate rewards.

Few will voluntarily embrace changes that make their lives more difficult. So few are aware of the importance and educational emergency.

The Huffington Post reports that it is nothing short of tragic to see that our kids aren’t getting the math and science skills they’ll need to thrive in their lives and jobs. “Government data show that almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require a firm grounding in STEM.

>> Dear reader: what can change the status quo in education and/or in manufacturing?

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Future manufacturing depends on young talent with advanced analytical skills

Posted by Bert Maes on December 2, 2010


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We don’t know how the manufacturing industry will look like in 15 years. But Accenture gives it a try in “A perspective on tomorrow’s high-performance manufacturing firms: what’s your plan for 2025?

The management consulting company touches concepts such as hyper-customization & crowdsourcing, respond more quickly and accurately to customer needs, and tightly align with suppliers.

But they admit that all these strategic activities and new models hinges on having young people with the right skills on the shop floor.

A first-order challenge in this regard will be getting enough people with the right “thinking” skills (beyond operator skills or pure technical skills), coaching and management skills to regions where operations are expanding or being put in place. Advanced analytical skills will be in especially high demand, says Accenture.

The challenge today is to teach young people the skills to interpret quantitative methods from data in customer behavior, the supply chain, product development, and production lines, and then use those insights to shape business decisions and, ultimately, to improve outcomes.

Manufacturers seems to have loads of shop floor data, but many struggle to make sense of it all. The goal is to use real-time data from shop-floor systems to quickly anticipate problems in cost, quality, productivity, or customer service so that staff can make immediate course corrections.

But, shortfalls of skilled labor are projected for the fastest-growing markets. India faces a potential shortage of 2.45 million engineers by 2020, and China’s gap in skilled professionals could reach 5.9 million by 2015. This raises serious questions about whether education systems, societies and individuals understand the demand issue correctly. The younger generation does not step up its technical, maths and business management skills.

And a lack of quality training and education also contributes to the shortages. Given the increasing complexity of technology, people will need more quality education, not less. And this needs to be done on the most modern equipment. None of the young talents will want to learn old systems.

A great approach is the Stepping Up To Algebra program, designed for 7th grade students who struggle in math. Xavier testifies “I never liked math, I always got bad grades, until I got into Stepping Up To Algebra. My teacher made me feel like I could be successful in math and that I was good enough to go to college. The field trip to San Jose State and the engineering department was great, and made me start thinking about college. Now I want to be an engineer.

But even if the quality of education improves, there appears to be a cultural aversion among youngsters to enter the STEM disciplines. Parents must encourage their children to enter these disciplines. Parent engagement is the cornerstone of academic achievement. And studying in technical fields is absolutely worth it.

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[VIDEO] European Commission Promotes Metalworking

Posted by Bert Maes on December 1, 2010


Besides a European manufacturing Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, the European Commission now developed a video promoting the EU metalworking and metal articles industries.

Aimed at secondary school graduates and students, the clip illustrates that the metal-transforming industry offers a dynamic environment where innovation, development and potential for exciting careers are the reasons for continuing investment.

Illustrating a series of shots of young people enjoying leisure activities, the video clip projects them into a near future in which their career in the metalworking industries will have a significant impact for all of us.

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