Manufacturing covers a variety of industries; aerospace, automotive, defense, commercial to space and beyond. No matter what the product is, it began with a need or a dream. Manufacturing is all around us from spaceships to the tiniest brackets and screws. Those who invent and engineer partner with the unsung heroes of manufacturing. These include but aren’t limited to Machinists, welders, grinders, & chemical processors. The men and women who bring another’s dream to life are as important as the ones who design and engineer those dreams.
There are employees who have been passionate about manufacturing since they were young. For others it comes out of happenstance; they needed a career change or a chance to learn a new skill. It is because of these men and women that I look at the world differently. Now I notice the small screws, nut, bolts, flanges and gears. There is an awareness of parts large and small. With awareness comes appreciation. I am not so apt to just throw something away; rather I think there’s a shop that can fix that. Where there is a shop there is a way.
The men and women who bring another’s dream to life are as important as the ones who design and engineer those dreams.
There is often a negative stigma surrounding manufacturing. This is a job that is beneath us or not considered an ideal career choice. This is a job for someone else but not me, without even taking the time to investigate. Many students today don’t get an opportunity to see what is in the shop. Going behind the scenes to see how products are made. Often I meet students who are interested in design and engineering. Every time I tell them, get yourself enrolled in a machine shop class. The response is “Why should I do that, I am not going to be a machinist”. I explain to them they will have a better idea of how their product is going to be made and fuller understanding of the entire manufacturing process. Seeing an idea on paper is one thing, watching it come to life on the shop floor is another.
My daughter brings me the metal slinky she received for Christmas. “Mom look at this, its broken.” Her 3 year old brother managed to bend the slinky in half. “Mom can you fix it?” she said. My response was “I can’t but the shop can fix it”. These are the words I have uttered many times. In the shop is where magic happens or at least in our house, where we can take what is broken and make it new again. Manufacturing touches our everyday lives and often many don’t realize it. When an opportunity presents itself I show my children how the products we and many other shops make are a part of our lives. The magic and wonder of manufacturing is all around us. This is what holds our life together and for others it makes their ideas and imaginations a reality.
Manufacturing touches our everyday lives and often many don’t realize it.
I love what Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs says, “We need to make work cool again.” The conversation about manufacturing needs to change. We need to show our children there is opportunity for them in the world outside of a college degree. There are many “cool” jobs that allow them to use their creativity and problem solving abilities. As parents, grandparents, siblings, co-workers friends we should share our work and encourage the future generations to see what we are doing in the shop.
I am always amazed when one of the machinists shows me how they make a certain part or shows me where there is a defect. A lead machinist shared with me once, “I can tell by the sound, when the machine isn’t running right.” The precision and attention to detail blows me away every time. Whether is it parts going to the international space station, a camera housing, plastic gears or a broken slinky, there is magic in manufacturing. We only need to believe and share that magic with the world around us.