October 12, 2017

Manufacturing Day began in 2012, with a mission to change the public perception of manufacturing and inspire more students to pursue manufacturing careers. By bringing students and other targeted groups into today’s modern manufacturing facilities, Manufacturing Day helps to dispel the notion that jobs in the industry are monotonous, unskilled, and conducted in dreary and dark factories. Under the leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers, 600,000 students nationwide participated in Manufacturing Day 2017, to see first-hand that today’s manufacturing jobs are highly skilled and technical, and the jobs of the future will only become more advanced.

UI LABS, which is home to the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), was proud to host students from Lake View High School as part of Manufacturing Day this year. DMDII provides U.S. factories with the tools, software, and expertise they need to build things more efficiently and less expensively, so they can win more business and create high-skilled jobs. But those jobs will need qualified candidates to fill them.

According to Deloitte, over 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be created in the next decade. Two million of those are at risk of going unfilled due to a skills gap. Over the past two years, UI LABS, in partnership with ManpowerGroup, has been working to define what those manufacturing jobs of the future will look like and how the workforce can prepare for them. Initiatives like Manufacturing Day provide a valuable touchpoint for the next-generation of manufacturers to find inspiration to pursue the jobs of the future.

Lake View Manufacturing Floor
Tony Del Sesto, UI LABS Director of Manufacturing R&D, gives an overview of digital manufacturing in front of one of the DMG Mori CNC Machines on the factory floor.

The 22 students from Lake View High School who took part in this year’s events at UI LABS are currently enrolled in a Makerspace class at the school. Madeline Franco, a computer science teacher at Lake View, said bringing her students to the facility helped bring to life everything they discuss in the classroom. She said, “To have my students come and see manufacturing at a larger scale has been an amazing experience, because what we do at school is much smaller.” Alex Hernandez, a high school junior, echoed that sentiment, saying that being here helped give him an idea of “how new technology works and is developed.”

The visit included an introduction to digital manufacturing; a question and answer session with DMDII Project Innovation Engineer, Charlie Tokowitz; and a tour of our factory floor and hands-on demo building a fuel injector with DMDII partner Light Guide Systems.

Paul Ryznar, CEO and Founder of Light Guide Systems, was on-site to demonstrate his augmented reality technology for the students, who experienced how the tool helps transform manual assembly processes by providing audio and visual guidance in real-time.

“Our membership at DMDII continues to be a strong partnership through accomplishing the goal of introducing digital manufacturing technologies, such as our augmented reality Light Guide Systems, to worldwide manufacturers, universities, and students that are looking for solutions,” Ryznar said. “Friday was a great example in that the students were able to see first-hand that AR is a real product delivering real results in a way that makes manufacturing both exciting and very cool.”

Students were particularly enamored by one part of the Light Guide Systems demo, which showed a video of a robot giving its human counterpart a fist bump after assembling a car door.

The day ended with an opportunity for students to talk over lunch with UI LABS staff members about their experience working for the organization. Many students expressed interest in going into the computer science or manufacturing industry, and Alex Hernandez mentioned that after his career in the Air Force, he might make his way down to UI LABS. With motivated students like these, the future of manufacturing in the U.S. is certainly bright.