Making connections

Posted on Jul 9, 2015 :: Editors Note
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Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

SUMMER IS A GREAT TIME TO PLAN FAMILY vacations, set up reunions and send the kids to camp.
New North-area colleges and universities have lots of things going on for kids, particularly related to the STEM fields (that’s science, math, engineering and technology), where young students get hands-on experience in designing and building cool things.
Kind of makes me wish I was a kid again.
Schools, colleges and universities are doing a better job helping to engage kids, particularly girls, in STEM areas earlier. But there’s still work to do, especially if we’re going to close the skills gap that has manufacturers worried about how to fill all those skilled positions that keep opening up.
Studies show that if girls don’t become interested in STEM in elementary school, they likely won’t be interested later on. When I visit the toy section of any department store and see items divided starkly between monster trucks and pink princesses, I think educators have their work cut out for them.
But they’re working on it. UW-Oshkosh is training elementary teachers to incorporate more STEM into the classroom. UW-Fox Valley just received a grant for an innovative new mentoring program for young women in engineering. Fox Valley Technical College had its first Girls in the Shop CAD and welding day camp for high school girls (see Education & Training).
It’s happening.
These programs are helping girls make the connection between what STEM is and how they can use it in a career. That’s not only going to help get more talented people into manufacturing facilities, but it will help open up new career pathways young women may not have envisioned before.
Speaking of new pathways, New North Inc. is setting up an exciting new way for manufacturers to develop relationships with other companies — a new supply chain marketplace (see Cover Story).
It’s a project that’s grown out of the Defense Industry Supply Chain initiative, which was created through a Department of Defense grant to help companies impacted by cutbacks at Oshkosh Defense expand into new industries. Now, other companies also will be able to take advantage of this new network, hopefully opening up new types of supply chains. The marketplace will not only help companies expand their business, but it will be an attraction tool to help recruit investors to the New North region.
And more about making connections: Are you ready for the Manufacturing First Expo & Conference this year? Organizers are excited about it and say the fifth annual event will be the best one yet. It’s become so popular that it’s now being held over two days, Oct. 21 and 22. You can sign up for a lunch and learn program about the New North’s new supply chain marketplace, among lots of other opportunities, including networking.
Check out our special Manufacturing First insert in this issue, and be sure to register for the conference.
We at Insight look forward to seeing you there!