Lean and Green: Next Generation Careers in Technology

Last Friday, Horst Engineering participated in a student and educator expo at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut. Lean and Green: Next Generation Careers in Technology was another step in the right direction. The expo was focused on manufacturing, green technologies, lean enterprise, and sustainable manufacturing practices. I attended the expo with our Controller/Human Resources Manager and our Human Resources Administrator. More than 400 students and teachers were bused to MCC for the day long event. The students and teachers participated in workshops that were taught by members of the business community and the academic community. Additionally, more than 20 businesses, including Horst Engineering, had trade show style booths filled with information about our products and high technology manufacturing career opportunities. Our neighbors were Adchem, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, Whitcraft, LLC, Barnes Aerospace, GE Aviation, Hamilton Sundstrand, General Dynamics, Kaman Fuzing, UTC Power, and others. There were large companies (e.g. GE) and small companies like us.

Connecticut’s economy will continue to deteriorate unless more focus is put on the manufacturing workforce. Manufacturing is the foundation of Connecticut’s economy and the various stakeholders need to collectively work to change the stigma attached to the sector. 30 years of outsourcing, layoffs, and decline have conspired to weaken this foundation. This most recent expo is another action toward reversing the trend. The Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the Next Generation Manufacturing Center, the Connecticut Community Colleges, and the National Science Foundation joined forces in this effort.

I shook hands with a couple of hundred students and educators. I asked the kids what school they were from. I asked them what grade they were in. I asked them what their interests were. I asked them if they had relatives in manufacturing/machining. I asked them if they were planning to go to college. I asked them if they worked part-time. I asked them if they had ever taken a “shop” class. I peppered them with questions to gauge their interest. I quizzed the educators too. Oh, and our team answered a lot of questions about our business and our industry (precision machined components for aerospace,  medical, and other high technology industries).

From all of this market data, I made some interesting assumptions. The students that had the most exposure to manufacturing (from relatives or teachers) were the most interested in engineering and manufacturing careers. The students from the more affluent communities were more apt to be college bound. The students who had part-time jobs were more manufacturing and engineering oriented. The students who were mechanically oriented (e.g. cars, bikes, motorcycles, etc.) were more interested. The boys were more interested than girls. It was all un-scientific data, but I took the pulse of crowd.

I was mostly encouraged by the group. Sure, there were moments of immaturity, but heck, they are kids. I was most impressed with the crew from Manchester High School. They had a very caring teacher/career counselor who was obviously pushing them to develop job skills. Each Manchester kid had their own business card. It listed key contact info, interests, and strengths. Each card was uniquely created to show their personality. One student had a monster truck on his card. I grabbed that one! Another had flowers and colors. She wanted to be in the medical sciences. I was very impressed to see the effort. That group wasn’t just there for a day away from school and the free food. Kudos to the teacher.

My voice was hoarse by noon, but I felt like I had learned something new, done my part to promote manufacturing, and gotten a few recruiting leads for Horst Engineering.

1 Response to “Lean and Green: Next Generation Careers in Technology”

  1. 1 The Manufacturing Skills Challenge & Goodwin College | Life Adventures Trackback on 22 March 2013 at 9:54 am

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