Recently, Ford announced its purchase of the Michigan Central Station, an example of what Detroit once was and will be again. With this investment, Ford is planning on creating a Center of Engineering Excellence to focus on future mobility developments including autonomous vehicles and other modes of transport. This is a harbinger of the future for Michigan manufacturing, and I couldn’t be more excited and proud to be involved in manufacturing.

Michigan Central Station is being renovated in Detroit.

Manufacturing Day

On October 5, it was Manufacturing Day® across the nation. Coordinated by the National Association of Manufacturers, “Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.”

As a Manufacturing Engineer, I am humbled to be a part of this rich heritage of manufacturers. At DISHER, I have the privilege to work alongside a variety of leading manufacturers throughout the Midwest and the nation furthering my respect for the caliber of work being done. Often misunderstood, the profession of engineering within a plant is always on the cutting-edge of technological advances. In reflecting on Manufacturing Day, I want to offer up a list of practical suggestions on how to grow your own manufacturing expertise and respect manufacturers across our great nation. Some of these are daily activities while others will take the entire year.

Manufacturing: Ways to Equip Yourself & Honor Those in the Field

Go and See.

Some of the highest-tech manufacturing in the world is likely in your own back yard. Whether it is the Rouge Factory Tour in Dearborn, Michigan where they build trucks or the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where they assemble rockets, there is something for everyone. Our nation has a vast network of engineering attractions to pique the viewer’s interest. When you go, be mindful not only of the processes but the incredibly creative people who make it happen every day. One of my own favorite memories of a visit like this was going to the Kennedy Space Center and talking with an engineer who worked on the Space Shuttle program. The technology was fascinating but not as much as the people who got it all to work together.

Touring Manufacturing Facility

Take it and Make it.

Doing is often the best way to learn. Consider honing your skills by joining a maker community. If you have an idea for a product, widget, or innovation– take it and make it. There are hundreds if not thousands of these communities around the nation that are focused on providing everyday people access to the tools they need to be effectively creative with their ideas. They are also a great way to rub shoulders with excellent designers, machinists, and hobbyists who share the same passions for manufacturing and imagination.

Thank a Family Member or Friend.

If you have a family member or a friend who is in the manufacturing field— thank them! Often, these folks work long hours and deal with unforeseen problems that tie them up at the plant. This is all in a day’s work in order to get product out the door and contribute to a growing economy. Chances are you have someone you know who serves the greater community in this way. My grandfather worked 40 years at GM; I am thankful for that legacy. Who can you thank today?

Subscribe to Resources.

There are many resources that can be delivered to you daily, weekly, or monthly. Before adding another e-mail, ask yourself, “What would be interesting or useful to you?” Personally, I subscribe to Abundance Insider and MIT Technology Review.  Both offer the latest advances from academia and industry pertaining to automation and the next industrial revolution. Another more practical one is Today in Manufacturing from which speaks to issues that manufacturers deal with every day.

Volunteer and Share.

One of the most rewarding ways to grow awareness of manufacturing is to share any knowledge you might have with others. If you are in any way involved in an engineering or manufacturing science, volunteer and open your mind to others. High school and middle school science and technology teachers are always looking for guest to share about a particular topic or simply to have a Q&A session with students. Or maybe you can volunteer for FIRST Robotics or Lego League with your kids. This can be a great way to have some family time, learn, and develop skills for the future.

Volunteer and Share

Learn How Things are Made.

When people ask me why I wanted to go into manufacturing and engineering, I usually say that it is because of my own curiosity. This curiosity usually surfaces by wondering how things are made. The show, How It’s Made, is a good place to start if you are curious like me. However, this is not just an intellectual exercise. Learning how products are made helps us serve our communities and nation because we become better equipped in the science, politics, and resources in our world.

Study Manufacturing Formally or Informally.

Some of the items in this list may have already inspired you to think further about manufacturing. But if you want to take it to the next level, consider learning formally or informally. Formally you can become educated by taking classes and programs at technical centers, community colleges, or universities. Whether you want to learn how to weld, wire or research the next generation of smart materials, there is a formal program of study out there for you. Informally, there is simply no end to the resources available. The internet, friends, family, books, movies, and podcasts all are great ways to learn more about whatever interests you in the manufacturing sciences. One of my favorite shows that revolves around these sorts of topics is The Men Who Built America from the History Channel which tells the story of the Industrialists from the mid to late 1800s.

Plan Next Year’s Manufacturing Day.

Finally, one practical step you can take is to get involved in planning next year’s Manufacturing Day! Perhaps you are a manufacturer or work in this field in some related way. Get the date October 4, 2019, into your calendar, (Manufacturing Day is always the first Friday in October). Choose to invest actively in the future of manufacturing.

Manufacturing Tech Services

As a Team Lead for Manufacturing Tech Services at DISHER, I am grateful to work out many of these practices in my daily life. I value the great heritage of manufacturing in my own community. Discover what that heritage looks like in your community and what it could look like within your own life.

If your organization needs help optimizing your manufacturing people, processes, or equipment— let us know. We would love to become an extension of your team.

Written By: Joe Dyer, Team Lead – Manufacturing Tech Services

Joe enjoys coaching the Manufacturing Technology team and draws from a wide variety of work experience including manufacturing, quality systems, machining, and programming. Joe received an Aeronautical Engineering degree from Western Michigan University. Outside of work, he likes to spend time at home with his wife and two boys and leads various ministries at his church.