BERT MAES

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

Posts Tagged ‘CNC’

A weak manufacturing sector is like having a weak immune system

Posted by Bert Maes on April 5, 2012


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Every lost manufacturing job means the loss of around 2.3 other jobs in the economy (e.g. in research and design). Manufacturing’s decline slows economic growth. While manufacturing represents 10% of the jobs in the economy, job loss in manufacturing hits nearly 30% of the economy.

There is a structural weakness in our manufacturing. Our manufacturing is not competitive. Invasion of import competition from China was responsible for between one‐quarter to more than one‐half of the lost manufacturing jobs in the 2000s.

A new report – published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation – states that “the loss of manufacturing is due to underinvestment in manufacturing technology support policies (…), among others.

Underinvestment in medium- and high-technology is causing a structural decline of our economy. To be able to use those technologies, we of course need high-tech skills.

So the future of manufacturing begins with education, and with the resulting high-skilled top talent.

The current situation of manufacturing is like having a weakened immune system.

Without the right system of cells you will never keep the integrity of the body intact.

The body has soldiers, members of the immune system army:  the B-cell and the T-cell. The dutiful soldiers get into action the moment any foreign substance or agent enters our body. B-cells circulate all around the body in the bloodstream, and eventually bind to the agent. T-cells circulate in the bloodstream and lymph and kill the agent. The blood and lymph systems are responsible for transporting the soldiers of the immune system.

  • The blood stream is our education system.
  • The B-cells are our high-level technologies.
  • The T-cells are our highly-skilled workers.

They are our protective shields to combat infections. If our cells are not strong enough, viruses are attacking our vital organs.

Germany, Korea and Japan have transformed to high-skilled manufacturing. They have a significantly higher share of their manufacturing output in high-tech and medium-high-tech industries than the United States; they have transformed their manufacturing industries toward more complex, higher-value-added production. They face less competition, so they increase their manufacturing employment.

More and stronger cells, a better blood stream, a stronger immune system that shows higher productivity is required for strong health.

More students, more advanced technology, better education is required for economic success.

With a strong manufacturing immune system, the economy would be much healthier.

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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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Spanish and Portuguese Students: A Five-Axis Manufacturing Future

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2011


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School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free. “First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

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As most readers know, Haas Automation’s European HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) programme continues to go from strength-to-strength, as more and more schools on the Continent invest in the latest Haas machine tool technology to create state-of-the-art CNC teaching facilities.

However, not every school that invests in Haas machines chooses to be an HTEC. Some have more specific requirements. In the case of two, recently opened teaching-workshops in Spain and Portugal, that requirement was for low-cost, high capability 5-axis machine tools.

The Centro de Formação Profissional of Águeda, Portugal, opened on July 7th, 2011, and the IES Politécnico de Vigo, Spain, opened on July 8th. Each school has invested in a Haas VF-2 CNC machining centre equipped with a Haas TRT160 – a tilting 160 mm, 2-axis CNC rotary table, giving 5, simultaneous cutting axes. Both machines are supplied and supported by the local Haas Factory Outlet, a division of Portugal-based After Sales, SA.

Águeda’s economy has a strong, metal processing sector. “Two things are keeping this region healthy,” says mayor, Mr. Gil Nadais: “agriculture and metal manufacturing. We need to increase our turnover in these key export sectors and investing in innovative technology is essential for the future of this region.” School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free.

“First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

The economy in Vigo, Spain, Galicia’s economic powerhouse, relies heavily on local automotive manufacturing.  Mr. Antonio Estévez is headmaster at IES Politéchnico de Vigo. “Our priority is ensuring the car industry can find people skilled in mechanical engineering and maintenance,” he says. “Each year we invest in the latest equipment to ensure our students have the most up to date and practical preparation possible. The five axis Haas VF-2 is the right investment to develop skills that Galician companies need.

Several Haas industry partner companies – including Mastercam, Sandvik, Chick and Cimcool, also supported the grand openings of the two new teaching workshops. Managing Director of After Sales SA, Mr. Carlos Vilas-Boas feels that the role of his HFO is, in many instances, one of facilitator. “We take service and support very seriously,” he says, “and we believe it includes connecting students, teachers, employers, technology companies and politicians. These two events are good examples of how, when we all work together, the benefits are better training and, ultimately, greater productivity and stronger economies.”

Haas Europe HTEC coordinator Mr. Bert Maes also attended the grand openings. “These two schools have forward-looking managers and top-quality, industry-experienced teachers,” he says. “Combined with the easy-to-use Haas 5th axis technology, the result is highly skilled and motivated students with the technical ability to build complex projects like the ones I’ve seen today: from small wind-powered generators to fully-functioning customised, computer mice. I am convinced that many companies in Portugal and Galicia will benefit from the time and energy After Sales is investing in these important schools.”

www.HTECnetwork.eu

''

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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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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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Great Thoughts

Posted by Bert Maes on April 19, 2011


What would you like to add?

Source: http://bit.ly/fgUtrW

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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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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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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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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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Science Skills & Employability Skills Predict Future Salary

Posted by Bert Maes on November 30, 2010


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Now here is a good thought to start this day:

The kids that have good science and math skills are most likely to get good jobs in the future. Math and science skills tend to better predict future earnings than other skills taught in high school. (the Atlantic)

Many countries are currently discussing their education system, as many business leaders feel that far too many of today’s students are unprepared for the changes and challenges ahead, and that the situation is only getting worse. Many people blame teachers and principals for the perceived poor job readiness skills, lack of personal responsibility and underwhelming work ethic of our youth. When it comes to what’s wrong with our schools, there is no shortage of opinion, much of it conflicting.

Especially painful is the trend of billionaires giving away millions of dollars to schools that have pursued education reform that they like. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg just did the same. Apparently all of them are education reform experts. The rich are determining the course of the country’s education system. But none of their projects is grounded in any research. Bill Gates’ 2 billion dollars to create small schools out of large drop-out factories didn’t work for his goal. Standardized test scores didn’t go up. Many of the small schools that he invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.

Employability Skills

A big part of the solution might be rather ‘simple’: focus on math and science skills, but make sure that children are ready to ‘receive’ these skills, make sure they get inspired. The key in manufacturing education reform seems to be engagement and motivation.

In this regard, I just got connected to Fred Hageman. And what he is doing is just brilliant. He developed a program to improve student achievement by maximizing motivation, self-confidence, and personal responsibility.

I quote Fred Hageman:

“In football, the quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the receiver, but that is all that he can do. In order for the play to be successful, the receiver must catch the ball. It’s the same in school: regardless of how well-planned, innovative, or pedagogically sound a given lesson may be, for it to be successful, the student must receive it. And yet, far too often, this isn’t happening.”

If we don’t create school environments of success, Fred says, and teach how to be committed, how to focus, how to believe and how to visualize goals, the skills and knowledge our teachers try to teach our students will not take root nearly as well as they could. Seeds need fertile soil to grow.

“If we energize our students how to be committed, how to be determined, how to achieve the “I WILL DO THIS” mentality, and how to set brilliant goals, we can maximize motivation, self-confidence, personal responsibility and those test scores.”

Here’s one of Fred’s other fantastic sports examples:

“Throughout his NBA career, Charles Barkley was among the leaders in rebounds, even though he was a lot shorter than the players he was going up against night after night. When asked about what techniques he relied upon for his success, he said, “I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called ‘just go get the damn ball.'”

Charles Barkley knew exactly what he was going for. And he had full confidence in his abilities. He was able because he thought he was able. He had a goal and he was committed to achieving it. He spent most of his mental effort visualizing successfully catching that “damn ball”. He constantly kept his focus on the ball and he was determined to do it right, and right away. For him, excellence was not an act, but a habit. It was who he was. He wanted and expected to catch every single ball, thousands in a row.

Schools need to become places again (?) where young people learn such life achievement skills, where they experience and learn commitment, determination, inspiring math and engaging CNC science.

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Machine tool manufacturing and 15-billion years of cosmic evolution

Posted by Bert Maes on November 18, 2010


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Story by Matt Bailey

If you are machine tool manufacturing specialist or a student considering a long-term career as a CNC technologist, the following might spur you on and add a little inspiration to your day.

MATT BAILEY - Technology marketing communications and PR professional

In 1979, American astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan co-wrote and presented an epic, 13-part TV documentary called Cosmos, in which the Cornell professor contemplated the origins and the immensity of the universe, the wonders of the solar system and the possibility and likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. The show was a huge success, on both sides of the Atlantic, due in no small part to its host’s ability to communicate complex and fascinating concepts.

In the very first episode Sagan used the familiar Roman calendar to illustrate the enormity of time since the universe was formed, during what astrophysicists refer to as the ‘Big Bang’, 15-billion years ago. He asked his audience to imagine that each month, from January to December was equivalent to one-and-a-quarter-billion-years. Each day using this scale is ‘worth’ approx 40-million years and each second, 500 years.

Sagan went on to explain that if we imagine the Cosmos began on January 1st, it was in May that the Milky Way was born and September when our Sun and Earth were formed. Early life, he explained, began soon after, but the first humans only appeared on the cosmic scene sometime around the penultimate day of the year. It wasn’t until December 31st 11:59 and 20 seconds, however, that humans applied their ability to make and use tools, organised themselves into societies and built cites. ‘We humans, appear on the cosmic calendar so recently,’ said Sagan, ‘that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.

The first, primitive tools were found in Tanzania, on the African continent, and have been dated at around 2 million years. Using Sagan’s scale, CNC machine tools, and all of the modern accoutrements and conveniences that we create with them, including aircraft, motor vehicles, domestic appliances, computers, medical devices, space craft and satellites – we’ve engineered and manufactured in the last seconds, just before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, where we live now.

We owe our standard of living to tools and their evolution and our future depends on how we choose to use them. When Sagan recorded Cosmos the world had a stockpile of 50,000 nuclear warheads, also made using numerically controlled machine tools, capable of destroying every city on the planet several times over. Thankfully, the world’s nuclear arsenal has been reduced dramatically and the global arms race is, we hope, forever behind us. But, unless we find new and better ways to engineer and make the things we take for granted; ways that do less damage to the environment and use less of our irreplaceable resources, we still run the risk of what came to be known in the Cold War as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

We are the legacy of 15-billion years of cosmic evolution,’ said Sagan. ‘We have a choice: we can enhance life and come to know the Universe that made us, or we can squander our 15-billion year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first few seconds of the next cosmic year depends on what we do in the last few seconds of this one.

CNC machine tools, and the people who operate them, will play a vital role.


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