Education and the development of a highly skilled and trained workforce are the forefront of what keeps the gear manufacturing industry moving forward. Organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Penn State University’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA), and others are doing their part to make educational and training opportunities available to those looking to get involved in the gear manufacturing industry. The American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA), for example, hosts a broad curriculum throughout the year that members from all facets of gear manufacturing can take advantage of, starting with training for gear manufacturing courses where students can learn the fundamentals of gear manufacturing. The association also offers more advanced courses that are taught by world-renowned experts in gear manufacturing. More information on the 2016 courses can be found at www.agma.org.
SME (formally known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) also offers an abundance of resources for the gear industry.
Nearly 40 years ago, SME established a charitable education foundation to inspire, prepare, and support students through educational programs and scholarships that create opportunities for them to pursue careers in manufacturing. Now, according to Brian G. Glowiak, director of the SME Education Foundation, the organization is doing its part to develop a skilled manufacturing workforce and address the skills gap through collaborative engagements with educators, students, industry partners, and SME members. In recent years, the SME Education Foundation has cumulatively invested $9 million in youth education programs, encouraged more than 60,000 students to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), invested more than $17 million with colleges and universities to develop industry-driven curricula, and provided approximately $10 million in scholarship awards.
“Each year, the SME Education Foundation awards several hundred scholarships to students pursuing two- and four-year degrees in a technical or engineering field related to manufacturing,” Glowiak said. “The foundation also sponsors activities that create awareness of the exciting career opportunities in manufacturing, including student summits co-located with SME trade shows that provide students with opportunities to experience the real world of manufacturing, connect with local manufacturers, and see the latest technologies.”
The SME Education Foundation has also developed PRIME® (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education), a collaborative educational model tailored to match the workforce development needs of industry partners in specific regional communities.
“PRIME provides high-school students with an advanced manufacturing/STEM education and prepares them for successful careers in manufacturing,” Glowiak said. “It creates strong and successful partnerships between industry partners and local high schools by offering a comprehensive community-based approach to manufacturing education. This model gives companies a voice in education by working with the foundation and educators through a consultative approach designed to meet the workforce needs of local and regional manufacturers.”
The PRIME network currently has 38 high schools located in 22 states and is directly impacting more than 7,000 students annually with more than 185 manufacturing partners currently engaged with this network, according to Glowiak. Approximately 90 percent of students who graduated from the program last year are currently pursuing careers in manufacturing. The SME Education Foundation is also working to expand the PRIME network by 100 additional schools over the next five years. More information on the SME Education Foundation can be found at www.smeef.org.
To support the workforce development of existing and future employees, organizations also have access to Tooling U-SME, an SME organization that offers targeted blended training solutions based on the specific skills and knowledge needed by the workforce to drive business results for all types of manufacturing companies, including gear manufacturers, according to Jeannine Kunz, director of Tooling U-SME.
“From foundational manufacturing education to training in operational excellence and world-class manufacturing, Tooling U-SME provides a broad range of educational offerings for gear manufacturers,” Kunz said. “We work with more than half of all Fortune 500 manufacturing companies as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. Tooling U-SME partners with customers to build high performers who help their companies drive quality, profitability, productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Working directly with hundreds of high schools, community colleges, and universities, we can help prepare the next generation workforce by providing industry-driven curriculum to align with industry needs.” More information on Tooling U-SME can be found at www.toolingu.com.
In addition to industry organizations seeking out and training the next generation of gear manufacturers, companies are also addressing the need for a qualified labor force. For example, GF Machining Solutions LLC, a leading provider of machines, automation solutions, and services to the tool- and mold-making industry and to precision component manufacturers, recently hosted Manufacturing Days at its U.S. headquarters where local students and their parents learned about career opportunities in manufacturing. Mazak Corporation will also host its seventh annual Discover More with Mazak event at its Northeast Technology Center in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, May 3-4.