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ABB Apprentices Join the Next Generation of Manufacturers

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As manufacturers work to fill the skills gap and hire more employees, some are modernizing a tried-and-true approach: taking on apprentices. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, ABB—an industrial electric motor and robotics manufacturer—is leading the way with its innovative program for local high school students.

How it works: Apprentices work three hours per day, four days per week during the school year and then 40 hours per week during the summer. ABB trains them in a range of roles to provide them with a strong foundation in manufacturing skills and the ability to work their way into an advanced technician role.

A win-win: “These students are getting paid, and paid well for a part-time job,” said ABB Vice President of Operations Johnny McKusker. “They learn a variety of skills that most juniors and seniors in high school aren’t exposed to. And if they decide they like manufacturing and want to stay on, then we’re getting a person who joined us early, has had a lot of training and investment and is able to contribute at a high level early in their career.”

What comes next: Last year, nearly all of ABB’s apprentices took on permanent roles within the company after graduating. They were also able to continue their education through a local university, with ABB providing tuition reimbursement to help them pay for it.

A pitch for manufacturing: “Manufacturing as a career has changed significantly in the last 25 years,” said McKusker. “It’s not hot, dirty and dangerous work. Instead, it offers technical skill development and an opportunity to earn a good living.”

The experience: According to at least one participant in the program, the apprenticeship has been an excellent way to learn important skills and gain experience in a real work environment.

  • “My experience has been great,” said Nadia, a current apprentice working on the digital solutions team. “It’s given me the opportunity to learn about manufacturing, but also about bonding and building relationships with my colleagues. I’m getting the experience of what a real job would be like outside of school.”

The last word: “I want to continue working for this company,” said Nadia. “I took this apprenticeship because ABB was my dream job from the start, because of how great they are in industrial engineering. Seeing the opportunities here and seeing how they take care of bonding and relationship building—it’s something I really like and appreciate.”

Business Operations

9 Key Considerations for Digital Twins in Manufacturing

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Many manufacturers are ahead of the curve when it comes to digital 4.0, but not all may know about the numerous potential benefits of digital twins. A virtual replica of a physical product, asset or system, a digital twin makes the physical computable. It offers manufacturers a range of advantages, including better business visibility, increased product reliability and new revenue streams.

Is digital twinning right for your business? Below are some key considerations to weigh as you think about adopting this advanced manufacturing technology.

  1. Digital twins are not complete representations of a product.
    Digital twins are akin to algorithms. They are highly reliant on data input, and since it’s nearly impossible to turn every aspect of a physical product into data, digital twins are not precisely twins, though they are pretty close. A digital twin is created by outfitting a product with sensors that can track functionality. These can then be used to study simulations of the product’s performance. So digital twins are made up of models and data, but their complexity is reliant on the data used to create them.
  2. Digital twins evolve over time.
    As a product moves through its lifecycle, the information in its digital twin will shift in response to its performance, technical configurations and environmental parameters.
  3. Information and data are key across a product’s lifecycle.
    For a digital twin to remain relevant and useful over time, make sure you are utilizing a data structure that can be easily used and exchanged over different systems and applications.
  4. You can use digital threads to enable digital twins.
    Digital threads are a communication framework that link all elements of a product’s data, from design to obsolescence. Using them reduces the complexity of digital-twin implementation and increases digital twins’ accuracy.
  5. Transparency is critical.
    Identify, classify and correlate data across various sources so there’s transparency and automated information-identification processing. These are crucial for smooth digital-twin deployment.
  6. Open format is best.
    In contrast to a proprietary system, which ties an organization’s data to specific systems, limiting its use, an open format ensures that your digital twins can be easily updated, scaled and extended when new models and data representing new outcomes become available.
  7. Your device management plan matters.
    In addition to ensuring that data is in a format that can be accessed and used over time, you should make similar considerations for devices that will access that data (i.e., phones, tablets and laptops). Make sure that your device plan can keep up with your needs for monitoring, updating and security.
  8. The cloud is your friend.
    Cloud-based computing, storage, analytics and artificial intelligence/machine learning services enable operational technology and information technology managers to build, deploy and grow solutions quickly and affordably.
  9. There are costs and benefits.
    Digital twins today may be expensive to build and maintain, but they enable technical agility and speed that foster easier scaling—and save money in the long run to boot.

Learn more about digital twins: As decision-makers in manufacturing embrace digital transformation, it is imperative to consider digital twins as key pieces of the process. For more insights on digital twins in manufacturing, read Digital Twins: The Key to Unlocking Value and Innovation.

Workforce

“You Guys Rock”: Creators Wanted Inspires Dallas/Fort Worth

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As the final 2021 stop on the Creators Wanted Tour Live circuit, Dallas/Fort Worth had quite a few expectations to live up to—and live up to them it did.

Big impact: With more than 1,000 students attending events, participating in panel talks and discussions and “racing to the future” in the Creators Wanted immersive experience, the Dallas/Fort Worth visit of the joint NAM/Manufacturing Institute project designed to inspire and educate the next generation of manufacturers had a very large audience—and a receptive one at that.

  • “When we first mentioned it to them, they had never heard of Creators Wanted,” said Roberta Woodard, a high school professor at TCC South Collegiate High School in Fort Worth, of her students, who attended the Creators Wanted events. “But they were really excited about obtaining any information that they could to help prepare them for graduation.… These kids have [now] shown a great interest in hopping into the workforce as soon as they graduate.”

A truly hands-on experience: During the four-day tour stop, students, teachers and parents were able to try out numerous activities related to manufacturing, including using the VRTEX virtual reality arc welding training system and piloting drones at the Fort Worth Independent School District’s mobile STEM lab, exploring Vuforia augmented reality by PTC, interacting with displays by, and meeting creators at, Stanley Black & Decker, Cornerstone Building Brands, CRH and Nucor and completing the puzzles and escape-room challenges in the Creators Wanted mobile experience.

The chance to see and feel manufacturing firsthand was a game-changer for many attendees. 

  • “Sometimes it’s hard to teach students from a textbook, or even from online materials,” said Tuan Tran, professor of career and technical education at TCC South Collegiate High School. “And when they see real people here in front of them, talking to them, it gives them a little bit of a peek into what’s possible in the future.”

Family and money: One of the possibilities when it comes to manufacturing careers is the opportunity to make a very comfortable living, and to do so in an environment that values its employees, panelists told Creators Wanted attendees.

  • “Now more than ever we need people in trades, we need people in the manufacturing industry, so manufacturing companies are starting to pay [what] you’re worth,” Oldcastle Infrastructure Plant Manager Brandon Castillo said during a Creators Wanted panel talk and Q&A session, echoing the findings of a recent joint MI–Deloitte study, which found that if the U.S. continues on its current trajectory, the U.S. will have more than 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030.

“For me, it allows me the ability to take my kids to Disneyland or Disney World and just do a bunch of family activities that I’m not sure would be afforded to me if I didn’t choose manufacturing.”

Students had the opportunity to draw insights from not just the exhibitors, but also from Celanese, Specialty Packaging, Georgia-Pacific and the MI’s Heroes MAKE America initiative.

News nods: Texas and national media outlets, including the Fort Worth Business Press, NBC 5 Dallas/Fort Worth, KRLD Morning News 1080, The Dana Show and The Dan Bongino Show covered Creators Wanted Tour Live Dallas/Fort Worth.

Highlights from the stop: Here is a glance at some of the action:

Crowley High School students watch, mesmerized, as they see the laser engraver—and modern technology—help them unlock the next room of the immersive challenge. More than 74% of students who were skeptical about manufacturing left the experience either very or somewhat interested in learning more about manufacturing careers.

Students from Tarrant County College South hear about the career paths at Stanley Black & Decker.

Students from Young Men’s Leadership Academy listen as Khristopher Kuker, plant manager, Dallas U.S. Windows Plant, Cornerstone Building Brands, lays out potential career paths at the company.

CRH brought crafts to the table, giving students a chance to connect one of its products, Sakrete concrete, with some of the attributes of manufacturing careers.

A student from North Crowley High School reacts to PTC’s augmented reality software.

The race to the future had students working together to correctly identify the Honda vehicle from hints “left” inside the immersive experience from design, engineering and testing Honda associates.

On stage, Specialty Packaging President Hank Dorris and his mentee, Brian Wade, emphasize the importance of mentorship to students at Jacquet Middle School. Dorris, whose company makes products for companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Sonic, Chili’s and Wrigley, was personally instrumental in bringing the tour to Fort Worth, marshalling major school districts and key partners to engage as many students as possible.

The social media response: School participants, including Tarrant County College and Kennedale Career & Technical Education, tweeted photos of their students learning about manufacturing careers—and having a blast doing it.

The tally: In addition to more than 1,000 students who joined the tour, the tour stop helped Creators Wanted move beyond 153,000 email signups from students and other individuals interested in manufacturing careers and exceed 138 million digital impressions.

The last word: The Creators Wanted Tour Live had such a positive reception it was invited for an encore. Said Woodard: “You guys rock. Come back and see us.”

Business Operations

When Something Smells Phishy: A Cybersecurity Lesson for Manufacturers

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When an email account with a nonsensical address pretends to be your CEO asking you to buy gift cards, you might deduce that it’s a phishing scam, right? That attempt probably won’t get far, but cyberattacks are a more sophisticated threat and potentially much more damaging to manufacturers of all sizes than they might imagine, warns eSentire Vice President of Industry Security Strategies Mark Sangster.

In a recent webinar produced by the NAM’s Leading Edge program, titled “Go Phish: Building Cyber-Resilience with Managed Phishing and Security Awareness Training,” Sangster laid out some useful advice for businesses. Here’s some of what he had to say.

The threat: Cyberattacks pose a threat to manufacturers of all sizes. While there is a widespread assumption that attackers are only interested in larger corporations, the truth is that small and medium-sized businesses make up a significant number of targeted organizations. Lest manufacturers imagine that they don’t have anything a hacker or attacker would want, Sangster made clear that a great deal of information held by manufacturers is extremely valuable to attackers.

  • “If you look at the insurance data on claims, it’s small and medium-sized businesses, and in particular manufacturers, that are targeted,” said Sangster. “In fact, about a third of those attacks generally focused on manufacturers.”
  • “You have data and assets worth stealing,” said Sangster. “You have secret recipes and manufacturing automation controls, and data that’s involved in that. And personally identifiable records and intellectual property. And depending on the type of business you’re in, it might be health care records and so on.”

The approach: While stereotypes often suggest that most phishing emails and other scams are obviously fake, many cyberattacks are extremely sophisticated, using specifically targeted methods to gain access to vulnerable networks, Sangster noted.

The good news: Even nation states and powerful ransomware gangs tend to leave a trail before an attack that can help manufacturers identify looming problems and thwart a breach.

  • “There are signs and symptoms that something’s going on,” said Sangster. “There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. And if you get into a hand-to-hand battle with these guys, there is an opportunity to identify it before it metastasizes throughout your organization and becomes those massive business-disrupting ransomware outages that we sadly read about.”

Some low-hanging fruit: Sangster highlighted a few protocols that manufacturers use to prevent most cyber attackers from gaining access, including multifactor authentication or a secure remote connection, like a VPN, or a software-defined perimeter that verifies the identity of a device before it is granted access to application infrastructure.

  • “Following these recommendations knocks away 90% of the risks that you face,” said Sangster.

Roll tape: For more information about the stakes of this moment, the importance of cybersecurity and the steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business, check out the full webinar here and learn more about eSentire here.

 The next step: Solid cybersecurity is a must for any organization. To help manufacturers protect themselves, the NAM created NAM Cyber Cover, a risk-mitigation and cyber-insurance program that helps manufacturers detect and cover any vulnerabilities. Check it out here.

Workforce

A Union Pacific Executive Gets Career on Track

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Benita Gibson didn’t set out to join the rail industry, but after 15 years at Union Pacific Railroad and 30 years in management across three different industries, she serves as Union Pacific’s general superintendent for commuter operations in Chicago—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

A big job: Gibson oversees Union Pacific’s North, Northwest and West Metra Lines. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the route carried 194 trains and 100,000 passengers every weekday. While the pandemic has disrupted some passenger rail travel, Gibson continued her focus on making the system work flawlessly, supervising everyone from engineers and conductors, to locomotive and car shops, to ticket agents and Maintenance of Way employees to ensure safe and efficient operations.

A pioneering leader: Gibson is the first Black female operating executive in Union Pacific’s history, but she hopes that the doors she opened will encourage more women and, specifically, more women of color to join her.

  • “When I started, you really had to stand your ground and let people know you were part of the team,” said Gibson. “I really just want to be treated equally. My main focus was, I wanted to be able to do what was expected of anyone to do, not just a male or female.”

Opportunity for all: Gibson encourages other women to look for roles in the transportation sector, emphasizing the breadth of opportunities that are available for people interested in being a part of a large and growing industry.

  • “We have everything within this company,” said Gibson. “We have marketing and sales, real estate and law, accounting and logistics. People don’t realize all the opportunities there are within a railroad. Every job and career type that’s out there is right here at Union Pacific.”

Now hiring: Union Pacific is also interested in promoting opportunities for women who might not have thought about a career in rail previously—and they’ve got big plans to do it. Through a $3 million, three-year partnership with The Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s workforce development and education partner—Union Pacific intends to double the number of women in its workforce within the next 10 years. The initiative that works in tandem with Creators Wanted is called Careers on Track and is designed to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industry careers through workforce development and career solutions. It includes:

  • A digital STEM curriculum;
  • A virtual STEM experience allowing participants to explore interactive 3D models of facilities and locomotives;
  • A STEM micro-grant program for young people; and
  • A digital campaign that demystifies career opportunities for underserved women.

The last word: “Being a young female getting into this career is exciting,” said Gibson. “It offers great pay, great camaraderie and the chance to learn a lot. You have an opportunity to see a lot of different places within the 23 states where we operate. Our motto is ‘Building America,’ and that’s exactly what you get to do.”

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Can Stay Cyber-Safe

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What is the biggest cybersecurity threat to manufacturers today? It’s ransomware, according to the experts who spoke at a recent NAM webinar.

What they’re saying: “Ransomware … has really become the biggest threat to a lot of organizations,” said ABB Global Cyber Security Manager of Power Generation Jim Lemanowicz during the “The State of Cybersecurity,” a webinar hosted by the NAM’s Leading Edge program. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s data until a ransom is paid to the attacker.

  • “It’s not intended to necessarily attack the industry” it’s victimizing, he continued. “It’s purely a financial incentive, and it’s indiscriminate.”

No more small-time hits: Up until recently, one-time hacks into computer systems were more the norm among hackers seeking an illegal payday. “One thing that’s drastically changed is, now [cybercriminals] recognize that massive operational outages are the way to go,” said eSentire Vice President and Industry Security Strategist Mark Sangster. “And they can elicit seven-figure payments. It’s been professionalized. You can hire a freelancer.”   

Assess your risks: What does all this mean for manufacturers? Assessment is key, said Lemanowicz.

  • “Address the risk based on the criticality of the system—you know, what’s going to really cause you to have something that you can’t recover from, something that’s going to be a lasting problem,” he said. “Some systems you may be able to take offline” or use once a week or once a month.
  • In cases where the isolation of a device would wreak operational havoc on your business, consider building redundancies into the system to isolate the devices effectively in the event of a breach. “Controlled access points between systems [mean] a ‘cascading effect’ is less likely,” Lemanowicz continued.

The way in: As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Beware of often legitimate-looking spear-phishing attacks, which will appear to come from someone you or your employees know.

  • Today’s cybercriminals “have lists,” Lemanowicz said. “They map out the different industries. They have an understanding of who’s involved in what levels in that organization.”

What else can you do? The panel experts had some additional tips for manufacturers looking to keep their systems free of cybercriminals.

  • Use multifactor authentication.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Train all team members—including the C-suite—on good “digital hygiene” practices.
  • Regularly update all systems.

The last look: One of the best ways to view cyberattacks is by “using a cooking analogy,” Sangster said. “People think of state-sponsored actors and criminal gangs as being highly sophisticated, [but] what they don’t necessarily understand is that the ingredients they might use aren’t sophisticated. It’s salt, and it’s pepper, and it’s chicken. But it’s how they combine those” that can make a situation dangerous to companies.

  • The top way to avoid falling victim to these “recipes”? Said Sangster: “Having the basic [digital] hygiene in place.”
Workforce

“You’ll Never Be Bored”: Exciting Careers on Display in Dallas/Fort Worth

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What was the collective mood at the premier event of Creators Wanted Tour Live’s fifth stop? Upbeat and excited. In Dallas/Fort Worth Tuesday, before racing to the future in the Creators Wanted mobile experience, students from Tarrant County College and local high schools heard from leaders in education and manufacturing about the industry’s many exciting career opportunities.

Upward mobility: “You’ll never be bored working in manufacturing, I can assure you that,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy Erin Streeter. “A career in manufacturing will grow with you over time, so you may start as a welder and end up as a CEO.”

  • Indeed, there is no shortage of manufacturing jobs; only a shortage of people to fill them, Tarrant County College Chancellor Eugene Giovannini said at the kickoff. “Why is this happening now?” he asked, referring to the Creators Wanted tour, a joint project of the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute. “Millions of jobs [are] going unfilled because of not having people skilled to do [manufacturing] jobs.”
  • In fact, the U.S. will need 4 million manufacturing positions over the next decade, Giovannini said, referencing a figure from a joint MI–Deloitte study. “It’s folks like Creators Wanted … that make you prepared” for those jobs.

Opportunity abounds: “The students here in front of me … are graduating here in North Texas at an ideal time,” said Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Kent Paredes Scribner, who presides over a school district of more than 70,000 students. He also said that the demand for technical and certification programs at Fort Worth schools has increased significantly each year in recent years. Scribner indicated that more than 1,000 students would join Creators Wanted in Fort Worth.

  • Aicha Davis of the Texas State Board of Education echoed this sentiment. “One of our most important duties is to make sure that you have what you need to be successful when you graduate,” she told the audience at the kickoff. “And we listen to different industries … one of the number-one demands is for manufacturing … because we have so many different items that we ship in and out of Texas.”

A re-envisioned future: Manufacturing gives those who work in the sector the chance to discover themselves and their callings, the speakers at the premier event told the many students, teachers and parents in attendance.

  • Jessie Kessler, site leader of the Northlake Distribution Center Site for Stanley Black & Decker, a Creators Wanted Innovator sponsor, told the audience she started at SB&D 22 years ago “answering phones … as a temp” and never dreamed it would lead to a career with the company. “The [number] of opportunities that are in the manufacturing sector opened up the world to me. … There’s definitely opportunity to grow and to learn and to move up. You’re not stuck at one job forever when you step into a manufacturing facility.”
  • Cornerstone Building Brands Supply Chain Senior Vice President Brigette Gage, who spoke at the event, told the crowd that her career goals have come a long way since she got her start in the workforce. “I started as an engineer; I wanted to design roller coasters,” Gage said with a laugh. “But I found out that … actually making something was certainly a lot more fun” than designing it, “and it’s where I found my niche in my career. … At Cornerstone, we absolutely recognize the importance of making sure we’re continually evolving.” Cornerstone Building Brands is a Leader sponsor of the tour.

Responding to the call: Before tours of the Creators Wanted mobile experience and its popular escape-room challenges, MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee wrapped up the kickoff event by reiterating the need for skilled people in manufacturing.

  • There are 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing today, Lee said. By 2030, that number could grow to 2.1 million, and those unfilled jobs “will harm our communities. … You can be part of that next wave of creators. Regardless of your interest, there’s a place for you.”

For quick video highlights of the premier event, click here.

Business Operations

AI Roadmap: How Manufacturers Can Amplify Intelligence with Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial intelligence offers manufacturers a host of benefits. These include better visibility into supply chains, insights from predictive analytics and the ability to respond to unexpected changes in demand more efficiently and quickly. Here’s a six-step roadmap for manufacturers looking to integrate AI into their business.

Six-Step AI Roadmap for Manufacturers

  1. Acknowledge AI’s potential
    Engage the C-suite in dialogue about how best to use AI. Allocate resources for specific AI projects and set priorities across the business. Pick company AI “agents” who can create business cases, develop metrics and put AI solutions into action.
  2. Transform and plan
    Create an AI plan that includes key performance indicators in line with your business strategy. Establish a special data unit to address needs AI could help support, such as data collection and cleansing.
  3. Build your data foundation and structure
    Convert any remaining nondigital data, “clean up” other data sources so they don’t contain errors or duplicates and add structure to boost your data quality and effectiveness.
  4. Create an external “partnership ecosystem”
    If your business doesn’t have in-house AI expertise, engage outside experts such as start-ups, academic specialists and consultancies.
  5. Leverage in-house AI expertise
    Employ outside AI experts to teach other staff members about data science. Your existing workforce will need this information to learn new skills and fulfill new responsibilities.
  6. Create architecture and infrastructure
    Consider using standardized infrastructure service offerings that can slot easily into your existing business setup. This will make integration much smoother.

Why does AI matter? Manufacturers that create AI-friendly cultures today are positioning themselves to boost customer and employee satisfaction tomorrow—and they’re gaining a competitive edge to boot.

Business Operations

The Company That Puts UV Light to Work

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Did you know that several of the components in your car may have passed under high-intensity UV light prior to your purchase? You may have heard that manufacturers coat headlights with a UV protective film to keep them from getting scratched by road debris, but several other components are also manufactured using UV—including windshield borders and the protective coating on interior trim. The process is called UV “curing,” which dries coatings consistently, efficiently, durably—and without releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, as other drying processes do.

The NAM got a firsthand look at this technology recently, thanks to manufacturer Miltec UV of Stevensville, Maryland. The company manufactures UV systems that cure products like optical fiber, semiconductors, prefinished hardwood floors and cars, supplying this technology across the country and around the world. NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer visited Miltec’s facility to check it out.

Here, an employee at the Bulb division is making a UV bulb. Miltec manufactures thousands of bulbs each year for export around the globe:

When dealing with UV technology, safety comes first. Here, an employee working in the Li-ion Battery Research and Development lab is assembling coin cell batteries in a glove box. The batteries will be used as test samples.

The set of a sci-fi movie? Nope. It’s just the testing of a 16-lamp UV curing system that produces more than 530 KW of UV power. Ultimately, the customer will use this system to cure inks and coatings on a high-speed printing press that manufactures outdoor packaging bags, such as for Miracle-Gro.

Of course, you can’t go through an entire story about UV light without a cool picture of UV light—so here it is. This is a UV bulb after it’s been filled with an inert gas, which helps it illuminate its powerful UV light.

Miltec says: “Miltec UV is proud to be a member of the NAM and extremely grateful for all of the work that the NAM does to protect the jobs of our team members that do so much to help our company grow and succeed in the international market,” said Miltec President Bob Blandford. “We are also honored and blessed to have such a dedicated manufacturing team that truly understands the importance of making products in the USA and satisfying customers with reliable and high-performance products. With the help of tax cuts, Miltec UV is doing its part by creating more jobs, increasing salaries and offering end-of-year bonuses for its employees.”

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Making a Difference: Creators Wanted Visits Charlotte

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Creators Wanted is having a moment. In Charlotte, North Carolina, the fourth stop of the mobile experience’s five-city expedition around the U.S., the Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to generate big excitement about manufacturing and the career opportunities the industry offers.

“I’m only 22 and I bought a house, a boat and a dirt bike,” said Ketchie Inc. Lathe Department Lead Machinist Zach Whitley, during a nationally aired live Creators Wanted Spotlight conversation with students from East Mecklenburg and Hopewell high schools. “Manufacturing is what has enabled me to have this lifestyle.”

Makers needed—and rewarded: The spotlight event was part of the four-day stay of the mobile experience at Central Piedmont Community College presented by Trane Technologies. The tour, a project of the NAM and its workforce development partner, The Manufacturing Institute, seeks to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of manufacturers—and recruit at least 600,000 new workers to address the manufacturing talent shortage, which is estimated to leave more than 2.1 million jobs unfilled by 2030, according to Deloitte and the MI.

Its message seems to be getting out.

  • “I had never heard of manufacturing before” today, Anson High School sophomore Janita Willoughby told Charlotte Channel 9 WSOC-TV reporter Susanna Black. But as it turns out, in a manufacturing career “you’re making a lot of money and you’re doing stuff you like, so that’s a good thing,” she said.

Goings-on galore: In addition to the spotlight event, the student- and job seeker-focused happenings in Charlotte were many and varied. They included:

  • A kick-off event featuring talks from speakers including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Creators Wanted Legacy Sponsor Trane Technologies’ Mike Lamach, NAM Board Chair and Trane’s executive chair, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston; Community College Chief Academic Officer Heather Hill; MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee; and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons
  • A manufacturing fair with local manufacturers and education partners, highlighting local career opportunities and pathway programs, certifications and degrees for those interested in manufacturing
  • Tours by local high school students of the escape room-like Creators Wanted experience
  • Q&A sessions in which students had the opportunity to discuss the manufacturing industry and its jobs with real manufacturers

“Something that excites you”: “There’s a common misconception that manufacturing is boring,” Lamach told an audience of students at the Charlotte kick-off event. “What I love about this Creators Wanted tour is how it pulls you [toward] the many different possibilities in manufacturing. There are many different kinds of opportunities to learn and grow, and all kinds of ways to make a difference. I hope you’ll find something that excites you.”

  • The Charlotte stop hosted more than 450 students from West Mecklenburg High School, Anson High School, South & West Stanley High Schools, Floyd Johnson Technology Center, East Mecklenburg High School, Hopewell High School, Myers Park High School, Rowan-Salisbury High School, Harding University High School, the Epiphany School of Charlotte and CPCC, generating approximately 68,000 email signups.

Highlights: Video and photos show some of the fun and learning that took place last week.

A Trane Technologies team member talks to student attendees at a Creators Wanted event.

Local high school students and teachers proudly display their escape room times.

The race to the gateway to the future was on in Honda’s “Sum of All Parts” challenge, where these students made the correct choice as to what product this team of Honda associates is creating.

Students had fun working with DJ Enferno to make their own Creators Wanted music anthems, putting more of the creativity central to manufacturing to work.

The tour in Charlotte brought manufacturing’s promise to students with differing abilities. Teachers reacted positively to the impact of the experience.

Lamach, whose leadership on Creators Wanted helped get the campaign off the ground, took the stage to emphasize what the tour is all about: students.

The response: Creators Wanted earned notice from some well-known names, both in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Media mentions: In addition to WSOC-TV, broadcast and online news outlets including the Charlotte Business Journal, WCCB Charlotte and Business North Carolina also covered the Creators Wanted Charlotte stop.

The final say: “You can’t create the future unless you’re engaging the future,” said Chrys Kefalas, chief strategist of the tour and vice president of brand strategy at the NAM. “Students came to us not thinking about manufacturing as a career and left aspiring to careers in the industry. Resumes were handed to manufacturers. We’re creating lasting memories that won’t just result in new workers but [will] also change lives.”

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