For years the U.S. has been the center of the world's economy. That was largely due to our culture of innovation and a once world-class education system. As the president of a small manufacturer it frightens me to see the dramatic change in these two areas.
For U.S. manufacturers, staying competitive with developing markets requires extremely efficient processes, often based on high-end production equipment and machine tools. These sophisticated machines and processes need a skilled employee. Eighty percent of respondents to the NAM's (National Assn. of Manufacturers) skills gap report indicated they were facing a shortage of qualified employees. Earlier this year, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) released two reports that showed the average 12th-grade reading score was the lowest since 1992 and less than one-quarter of 12th-graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. These findings underscore what many manufacturers face each day; the unmet need for workers who have the talent and skills necessary for a manufacturing job. These are not results that will support our country's status in the world market or as the leader in innovation and intellectual property.
I advocate strongly for career technical education to return to our high schools. While I applaud our local junior colleges for taking on much of this role now, it often comes too late in a student's education. Often, schools do not promote what many people today would call the “trades.” But this does our children, as well as our country, a disservice. Many kids who may not be college material just might be well-suited for a technical job. But without exposure to the possibility of a meaningful career, they drop out of high school. Instead, if we engage these kids and show them all of their opportunities, some may then have the motivation to apply themselves toward a degree.
The change needs to also be a cultural one. Where the U.S. was once proud to be the world's greatest manufacturing economy, we now place more emphasis on service-based industries. There is no longer any national sense of pride or status in actually making a tangible good.
Many economists are predicting China will soon outpace the U.S. on manufacturing. I can tell you why; they emphasize what is important in their educational process and they have a culture that values manufacturing. It's too bad America doesn't seem to know better than to turn its back on education and manufacturing. It is a cultural change that will erode the basis of our great nation.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.