Meet the future of manufacturing

Posted on Nov 15, 2017 :: Editors Note
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

IF GRACE DEMPSEY AND HER A-TECH classmates are the future of manufacturing, the industry is in capable hands.

I first met Dempsey a few days before Manufacturing First during the photo shoot for this month’s cover story (which starts on page 8) about A-Tech. Almost immediately, our photographer and designer began to center his shot on Dempsey and her classmate, Soren Lindstedt. They projected a confidence you don’t find in too many high school students.

Speaking with them only confirmed those positive vibes. As students of the Appleton Area School District’s still-fledgling advanced manufacturing charter school, Dempsey and Lindstedt are already acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the modern manufacturing workforce, and, with career plans that include degrees in engineering, prove there are more paths to success than the traditional route of high-school-followed-by four-years-of-college.

Dempsey also stood out as a leader, and she clearly has the respect of her classmates.

As one of just five girls in the program, she has a clear understanding she will be entering an industry in which women are still underrepresented (nationally, women make up 47 percent of the workforce, but only 24 percent of the manufacturing workforce). She’s talked to women in manufacturing about that, and doesn’t see it as a problem.

“I think we are in a different age,” Dempsey says. “The women I’ve talked to have been really supportive and really happy

Meet the future of manufacturing that I have chosen, and can choose, this (career).” Dempsey, along with her A-Tech classmates, instructors and board members, was proudly showing off the program at Manufacturing First in late October.

They were part of a great show that included more than 1,000 attendees, 500 students and nearly 200 exhibitors. (Check out our photo feature, page 20, and a recap of the CEO lunch event, page 22, that will catch you up on all the happenings from this year’s event.)

When it comes to catching up on things, you will want to look at this month’s Back Office feature on cybersecurity (page 15). If you are a supplier for a defense contractor — and many folks in our region are — you will want to take note of the new requirements soon going into effect. If you want to remain in that supply chain, there are some important steps you will need to take.

It’s been a good year for our region’s manufacturers. We will get a glimpse of just how good at next month’s New North Summit, when the NEW Manufacturing Alliance releases its annual Manufacturing Vitality Index. Hope to see you there.