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SME Program Prepares Kids For Sustainable Careers in Growth Industries

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Children are fascinated by things their parents no longer see, solve problems with simple solutions, and if left to explore, are naturally exhilarated by learning.

The first step in providing career direction for children is making sure they have simple access to resources that will provide them with a solid grounding in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The SME Education Foundation, a catalyst for innovative education, and in lock-step with young minds, is providing resources for young people, their parents and educators.

As students begin another school year, the award winning Web site www.ManufacturingisCool.com can help with science projects and offer opportunities to attend future Gateway Academy summer technology camps. Also, a new Web site, www.CareerMe.org, presents ideas on advanced manufacturing careers. The Foundation Web site provides scholarship resources with detailed requirements. All designed to prepare young people for sustainable, technology-based careers.

“Individually and collectively we all have the opportunity to leave an imprint on future generations,” said Sherril K. West, former president of the SME Education Foundation and a retired vice president of the technical services division of Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Ill. “The foundation provides an excellent opportunity to pool our efforts so our children and their children will benefit by what we have learned. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, successes will continue to grow as we introduce increasing numbers of young people to their career options. Science and math will help them leverage and explore a variety of career possibilities.”

As U.S. industries transition, and repetitive assembly jobs continue to be lost to overseas markets, near and long-term career opportunities will be in the medical device industry, now in a growth and development mode. Other key future career opportunity industries include energy and energy resources, alternative energy, and the traditional industries of oil and gas. In the long term, more focus is also being placed on micro and nano products.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job projections through 2018 identify two of the fastest growing occupations: computer specialists, including computer applications software engineers; and biomedical, where there is a growing need for medical scientists, biochemists, biophysicists and biomedical engineers. The projected growth of medical equipment and supplies manufacturing is estimated at 16 percent, or 49,800 jobs through 2018. Projections for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry similarly show growth of about 6.1 percent or 17,600 jobs through the same time period. 

Medical Manufacturing 2010, a special supplement to Manufacturing Engineering magazine, reports that many new materials, technologies and products are continually being introduced and refined in this country. In addition, the rate of innovation in medical manufacturing is reported to be very rapid in product and process development, and in business process innovation. 

Two young engineers profiled at CareerMe.org reflect the reported advancements in computer specialization and bio-medical careers. Each found their career in medical device manufacturing at Norwood Medical in Dayton, Ohio. The Web site details their stories and many others to inspire young people in their education and career direction.

While in high school, Dan Linville, now an industrial engineer, worked for a small company assembling pneumatic cylinders. Later, he enrolled at Sinclair Community College, taking classes preparing him to understand processes, shop floor support, time studies, and value engineering. A robotics programming class on controls helped him to understand CNC machining and he was able to work with machine programmers. He is now certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt.

Said Linville: “You wouldn’t think that knowing where the placement of aspirin or a defibrillator needs to be is important, but it means everything to the patient and their family. Everything is a process that can be made better.”
 
Helen Rodriquez, a quality engineer at Norwood, works on the development of new medical products. Her responsibilities range from working with the customer about their part prints and dimensions, to making sure the first article, or prototype, not only meets customer need, but that it can be efficiently manufactured and gauged. She holds a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Dayton. She minored in quality and was recently certified as a Green Belt through the American Society for Quality and is working on her certification for Six Sigma Black Belt.

She said she approaches her job every day with a sense of awe.

“It’s amazing to me that surgeons can visit our company one day, bringing a prototype they are trying to improve, and we are able to turn it around, develop and manufacture the product, and get it into the market,” Rodriquez said. “In the medical device world, we are saving and changing people’s lives.”

The concept of the Gateway Academy was created in a partnership between the SME Education Foundation and Project Lead The Way, a not-for-profit organization that promotes engineering courses for middle and high school students. In 2010, the SME Education Foundation held 237 Gateway Academies and reached over 4,800 students in 34 states. For more information about the Gateway Academy program, contact Project Lead The Way at info@pltw.org.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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