When you hear about the “Made in America” movement, it’s not always painted as a rosy picture: there are the tales of a looming skills gap needing to be filled, robots taking away jobs, and fighting to keep jobs in our country. How about some promising news regarding our manufacturing sector? Here are three organizations who are contributing in a large way.
WORKSHOPS FOR WARRIORS
Every day, the manufacturing industry furthers its legacy by attracting a younger generation to pick up the mantle. The industry is empowered by the organization Workshops for Warriors (WFW; San Deigo, CA), which seeks to obtain these current, and future, crucial jobs for our military veterans. In June 2016, Shop Floor Automations, Inc. (SFA; La Mesa, CA) attended an NTMA (National Tooling & Machining Association; Cleveland, OH) event where the organization spoke of the resources they provide to veterans who come home from serving us. WFW also prides themselves on helping those soldiers who come home wounded, who often have anxieties about re-joining the workforce due to physical limitations, which may also include suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
“It’s great to love our veterans, but love alone doesn’t get our vets these jobs as a good machinist, a fabricator, or welder,” said Hernán Luis y Prado, the founder of the program. The current WFW center has a large workstation of computers, $6 million worth of equipment donations from both Haas Automation, Inc. (Oxnard, CA) and Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. (Los Angeles, CA), and various other tools for learning about the nuances of the manufacturing field.
In addition to expanding their current location, Workshops for Warriors will, after a nearly-completed application process of eight years, become a program that veterans can use for their GI Bill. This means that, while the program is already free to veterans, they will soon have funds for housing and other approved costs that will make their lives considerably less stressful while trying to attain these necessary occupational skills and certifications. This is expected to begin in Winter 2018, about ten years after the program first got its start.
Hernán said in an interview with SFA at FABTECH 2016 that veterans get up to four years to be trained in a particular military occupation, but they have less than one week to transition as a civilian: “When you can train veterans, get them nationally recognized credentials, and place them into manufacturing careers, you will see them thrive and you are going to see America take off like she has never taken off before!”
If you would like to donate to Workshops for Warriors, please contact Amy by clicking here or call 619-550-1620 for more information. You also visit WorkshopsforWarriors.org for more ways to help, including volunteering.
OPEN SOURCE MAKER LABS
The future is what you make of it, and when it comes to the people who use Open Source Maker Labs (OSML; Vista, CA), “making” is literally their future. Latching on to the recent Maker movement, this digital fabrication lab in invited SFA (through NTMA) to visit, and we saw some of their focuses there with metalworking, welding, 3D Printing, woodworking, electronics, and much more. One of the projects they are most proud of is their involvement in the Vulcan1 rocket launch from May 2016. In collaboration with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at UC San Diego, the OSML lab was used to conduct a “cold flow” test of the team’s 20 ft tall liquid-fueled rocket.
With Dan Hendricks at the helm, OSML is open evenings and weekends for makers of any age, with monthly membership prices varying from $60 a month to $140 a month. The lab has tools, equipment, work space, and other resources to bring the concepts of the makers to life. Some of the tools available are CNC machines, 3D printers, laser cutters, a panel saw, soldering tools, a computer lab, and more. Membership includes, among access to tools, free classes, free parts and materials, project kit discounts, meet-ups, free parking, and coffee with snacks. For more information on OSML, call 760-998-1522 or click here.
It is pretty difficult these days to find someone who does not have a NetFlix, YouTube or Hulu account. They are not only gateways for entertainment, but also a good resource to learn about different cultures than from our own, to gain practical skills via “how to” videos, and a way to enjoy reality programming plus documentaries. Now, there is an online platform to access manufacturing-related video content called Edge Factor. The goal of this online platform is to make sure that young people realize opportunities they may not have previously considered in the manufacturing sector. It started with a single video, and now, their library has over 40 films with a treasure trove of accompanying videos with interactive resources available.
Edge Factor has many new projects on the horizon, such as a reality TV-themed program called “Reality Redesigned,” as well as a documentary coming soon called “Masters of Resonance.” In an interview with SFA, Edge Factor founder Jeremy Bout spoke about how the first piece he ever built with a machine set him on a path that would change his life, as well as the lives of others. For Disney, it was all started by a mouse, and for Jeremy, it was all started by an end mill: “A standard four-flute end mill, which looks so simple, really became a catalyst for just recognizing that everything is made in using that one tool. Boy oh boy, you can make an awful lot of different parts [with it]. The diversity of things that an end mill can create is shocking and astounding. So for me, the end mill was a gateway to a much, much bigger journey in life.”
Edge Factor can be broken down into three types of content: There is EduFACTOR – an educational platform for career pathways, technology and for teachers to talk to students and parents. There is Edge Factor Live – with over 700 live events covered so far with manufacturing resources. Finally, there is EF Agency – it takes a regional approach with organizations, communities and economic development groups for local manufacturing industries. How does Jeremy feel about the shifting landscape of the Made in America movement, with all the political changes going on? He says that while he has not directly seen the results of the new administration’s policies, we should be preparing for it. His main concern is the skills gap we have, and the one that can get even bigger, if we bring more manufacturing jobs back to America.
Jeremy is confident that if educators and parents use this online platform as a tool to reach the new workforce, it will make a significant difference in meeting this challenge: “If you weren’t already engaged with getting the next generation or the next pipeline of workers coming into your plant, you better be focused on it now, because there was already a need before, but the need just got way deeper.”
Editor’s note: This piece was written by Amanda Rosenblatt at Shop Floor Automations, Inc., 5360 Jackson Drive, Suite 202, La Mesa, CA 91942-6003, 877-611-5825, 619-461-4000, www.shopfloorautomations.com. SFA has been an expert in machining and manufacturing solutions for OEE and productivity enhancements since 1998.
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