The stodgy images of manufacturing plants being dirty, noisy, old facilities that spew all types of pollutants into the environment has in many instances given way to new or updated manufacturing facilities often replete with robots and other advanced machines working alongside humans, who are more likely to be intensely monitoring computer screens in lab coats.
That is part of the message panelists at a session at next week’s IME East Conference and Exhibition at the Jacob Javits Center in New York hope to convey to younger tech workers. The session, titled, “What Will Attract Gen Z to the Manufacturing Profession?” will look at the growing issue of replenishing the aging manufacturing workforce amidst an unprecedented, fast-moving technological revolution, where information is key and automation continues to make vast inroads.
The panelists will include Evelyn Rivkind and Jonathan Pierre, both manufacturing engineers at medical equipment maker Medtronic, and will be moderated by Mayra Zamora, co-founder of the Industry 4.0 Club.
Rivkind, in a brief e-mail interview with Design News, said she and Pierre will discuss their workforce experiences, ranging from their decision to pursue STEM to their current work and daily technical challenges. In addition, both panelists plan to discuss what they look for in a company as being part of a multi-generational workforce.
Given the growing impact of the IoT and the renewed emphasis by the government in investing in technology and updating the manufacturing infrastructure, the manufacturing sector would appear to be a good option for younger tech workers, whose skills tend to be more to up to date and in line with the needs of Industry 4.0 than older, retiring workers.
That is not necessarily the case, though, and Rivkin believes part of the issue lies in the lack of exposure to manufacturing in many current engineering programs, which tend to focus heavily on design and research. She added that unless someone specifically seeks internships in operations, it is difficult for graduating engineers to understand and appreciate the manufacturing side of the business and the technical challenges that may be involved prior to entering the workforce.
The session, “What Will Attract Gen Z to the Manufacturing Profession,” will take place Thursday, June 15th, from 12:45 to 1:30 PM at the Advanced Manufacturing State in the Jacob Javits Center as part of IME East.
Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected].