Many news organizations and trade magazines have spilled an incredible amount of ink extolling America’s reshoring efforts. A number of manufacturing jobs that had once been sent overseas have returned to American soil. This is great for millennials and Generation Z (or Digital Natives). Unfortunately, millennials don’t have the training to complete the jobs that their parents and grandparents once mastered. Companies are now looking for people to staff manufacturing positions that may not have existed 15 years ago. Or if the job exists, it wasn’t available, because a baby boomer with 20 years of experience held the position. With baby boomers retiring, and new manufacturing jobs developing, there is a dearth of experienced, talented trades men or women available. The question becomes who will fill these positions.
It seems pretty clear to me that universities, high schools, and community colleges can’t train the new crop of manufacturing workers. They are going to need some help. Companies can contribute material, equipment, and trainers with experience to train the next generation of engineers, production supervisors, machinists, welders, tradesmen and women. EXAIR has teamed with the University of Cincinnati and their Co-Op program by employing multiple co-ops for a number of years. A few of them, like myself, now work at EXAIR full time. We have even featured our co-ops in numerous Professor Penurious videos – I can guarantee that we didn’t hire them for their “acting.” EXAIR has taken an interest in a number of engineering students that wish to work for a company, who designs, manufacturers, and ships products from right here in the USA.
Now I may not be the most unbiased source of information. I got my start at EXAIR as a co-op working for the professor before he was the professor. “The Professor” has led EXAIR’s engineering department and internship program since 2008 and I was the first co-op. As I went through engineer classes, fluids and heat transfer were two of my least favorite classes, but through EXAIR, I was able to learn more about real world applications. I was able to put importance to my problems. I like to think that I was able to bring some outside knowledge and perspective to this company, and they have been able to train me into a serviceable application engineer.
I encourage other companies to consider training, internships, and mentor programs. There are some things that only experience can teach. For instance, I had the task of testing several of our Line Vacs to learn their conveyance rate. While I was testing tumbling media moving 100 feet away, I learned that the Line Vac can easily move tumbling media 100 feet and then some. I also learned that you will need to secure your Line Vac conveyance hose to prevent additional time cleaning up the test area.
While I was testing, the outlet hose of the Line Vac came loose from the outlet receptacle. Once the outlet hose came loose, I discovered that a Line Vac can convey enough material to cover a 40 foot circle with tumbling media in about a minute and a half. That day I learned three things.
- A Line Vac can convey tumbling media at least 140 feet.
Sweeping a 40 foot radius takes a Co-op about half a day.
Secure your discharge hose well, don’t skimp on the duct tape.