Happy Monday. I’m catching up from my last trip and starting on my next one. Today I’m in Austin, Texas. It’s my 14th NI Week. Look for news from National Instruments–and maybe even a nugget from Emerson Process and Hart Communication Foundation.

The news today I’d like to promote is a new project called Manufacturing Day. As you know, I’m an SME member and try to keep in touch. I just heard from the CEO of the SME Foundation with this news. Looks like a potential way for us all to get involved with raising the interest in manufacturing and engineering with our young people.

From the release:

On May 2, the SME Foundation called together leaders from 19 different organizations to discuss the image of manufacturing and to form a coalition that would develop ways to change public perception and attract people to careers in manufacturing.  An important result of this meeting, is that Friday, October 5, 2012 has been named Manufacturing Day
Manufacturing Day has been designed to expand knowledge about and improve general public perception of manufacturing careers and manufacturing’s value to the U.S. economy.   Manufacturing Day is for students, parents, educators, media, customers, suppliers and the community at large.  The core element to Manufacturing Day is the schedule of manufacturer’s open houses. Manufacturing Day will promote the open house schedule through its planned general and trade media campaign, which will alert thousands of people to the opportunity to visit manufacturers and see for themselves that manufacturing is alive and well in America and needs skilled employees. Visitors will learn about real career opportunities, training, and resources. In addition, manufacturers will learn about business improvement resources and services delivered through manufacturing extension partnerships.  It will also make it possible for manufacturers to visit other manufacturers in their region that may be potential business partners — either as customers or suppliers.
The SME Education Foundation is reaching out to academia and industry throughout North America to participate and I would ask that you help us promote this day in any way that you can – through your organizations, companies and/or through your local communities.
The SME Education Foundation announced its support of Manufacturing Day, a national grassroots movement created to shine a bright and flattering light on manufacturing, set for October 5, 2012. The effort is sponsored by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) and the U.S. Commerce Department’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

The goal of the sponsors is to rally the manufacturing community to host open houses, public tours, career workshops and other events to introduce as many people as possible to the new manufacturing reality: clean and lean facilities with highly-skilled employees implementing advanced technologies and processes.

The Foundation sees this is an opportunity for educators and parents to visit local employers with children, particularly those in middle school, to get them excited about the career opportunities available for those who have critically important STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

Studies by the nonprofit Manufacturing Institute and others show that almost 80 percent of Americans believe manufacturing is important to our economic prosperity, standard of living and national security. Yet only 30 percent would encourage their children to go into manufacturing as a career. The hope is that by providing media, educators, parents and kids with an inside look at the high-tech world of manufacturing that percentage will begin to grow.

With the gap growing each year between the skills students learn in school and those they will need on the job, it is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to find and hire qualified employees. By promoting Manufacturing Day, manufacturing associations and other organizations led by NIST MEP centers and the FMA said they want to remove some of the myths surrounding manufacturing. For example, manufacturing is a solid, long-term career choice for qualified candidates—including the young people who will form the workforce of tomorrow.

“The goal of Manufacturing Day is directly in line with our mission to inspire the nation’s youth to pursue education and careers in manufacturing-related fields. We are eager to lend our support to get the word out, and feel that with enough involvement from the manufacturing community, the impact could be significant,” said Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. “You can talk to people all you want to try to change perceptions and stress the importance of a qualified future workforce, but seeing is believing. There is really no better way to get the message across than first-hand exposure.”

The SME Education Foundation plans to promote Manufacturing Day through its industry partners including academia, business and industry including SME Chapters and Student Chapters. PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) launched last year by the Foundation, is an inter-connected grid of community-based manufacturers, schools, small businesses and local Chambers of Commerce which will influence the grass roots participation for this event.

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