Mary Scianna Click image to enlargeby Mary Scianna

Manufacturing has a big problem on its hands.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that many in the industry are struggling to keep up and ensure they have the right tools to remain competitive.

And the biggest problem manufacturing faces today isn’t just keeping up with technology; it’s finding the people who understand it. More importantly, it’s finding the next generation that can not only embrace new technology, but turn it upside down and inside out to generate creative, outside-the-box concepts that can take manufacturing to the next level.

Finding people who can do this means we must nurture innovative thinking in young children at school and at home. We need more programs like Scientists in School and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs at the elementary and secondary school levels that encourage students to explore careers in these fields, fields that are increasingly playing a bigger role in advanced manufacturing.

In short, Canada needs more engineers, mathematicians and scientists to work side-by-side with skilled machinists and CNC programmers who together can help create smarter manufacturing concepts for the future. We need innovators.

Innovators are visionary people who are able to inspire others with their ideas. We need the next generation of youth to be those innovators that can take leading edge concepts such as additive manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and robotics, and apply them creatively. More importantly, we need people who have the ability to explore the next wave of technologies that will help manufacturing and the economy advance in Canada.

How do we raise the next generation of innovators? Here are four key traits we should nurture and encourage in youth:

• curiousity
Curiousity may have killed the cat, but it’s an essential trait that is a key driver behind new ideas. Creating an environment in which youth learn about concepts, how they work, why they work and how they can work better can lead to an improved concept. • attitude Just as important as curiousity is a person’s attitude. We need to nurture youth who are willing to question the status quo and are open to the idea that the impossible can become the possible. • optimism Visionaries believe in a better future. They believe that things can be improved, and their ideas support this.

• perseverance
If you don’t succeed, try and try again. Good ideas often take time to develop and it’s important to create environments where youth can test ideas and develop them into concrete solutions.

There is no doubt that the manufacturing industry is undergoing dramatic changes and the way we do things today is not likely to be the way we do them tomorrow.

We’ll need the right people in place to help develop ideas that will spur the growth of North America’s manufacturing industry. SMT


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