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STEM and the U.S. Manufacturing Conundrum

The Conundrum

In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession.  The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.

The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself–a manufacturing and controls engineer no less–I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.

A 2009 survey by the American Society for Quality, as reported on manufacturing.net, helps to shine a light on our problem.

According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.

Survey findings on the adult side:

  • Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
  • The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.

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Are Sunny Days Possible in the Cloud?

Yes, but only if there is Trust…

Do you remember not too long ago hopping into your car, driving, across town (when gas was $1- something) to your local retail store and searching the computer department to purchase a cereal box that contained between 2- 8 3.5” (or are you “wise” enough to remember 5.25” floppy) disks?  The disk contained software that would entertain us, make us more productive and educate.  If you don’t remember that, how about going to the record store and perusing the aisles for hours reading the CD boxes that were twice as big as the CD.

Well those days seem long past; and inserting a disk in anything these days….well, seems a bit ancient.

Cloud

We’re now spoiled with the conveniences of iTunes, Salesforce.com, Facebook, Youtube, Yahoo Mail, etc..  In addition, we’re all too familiar with the seemingly millions of applications that run on a myriad of mobile appliances.  None of these programs run on our PC’s hard drive.  They’re browser based applications that are essentially utility services which we share with thousands of users.

So, I began to ponder the question, “What’s the big deal about the Cloud in Manufacturing and Enterprise?”  Read More »

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Cisco and Partners add Business Value for Continental Tire

There’s been a lot of buzz on the Internet about the way Continental Tire of the Americas has vastly improved its manufacturing process. They adopted an innovative solution based on a Cisco architectural networking approach provided by Cisco Partner Applied Group combined with AeroScout’s asset tracking solution and a inventory management system from Global Data Sciences enabling their manufacturing facility achieve a 20 percent reduction in component tire losses. Now that’s significant!

 

Chet Namboodri interviews Peter Granger about the benefits Continental Tire is achieving from the Cisco Unified Wireless based manufacturing/wip solution

It was a real pleasure for me to take part in  the Customer case study event organized by Cisco, AeroScout and Global Data Sciences for me to speak about the Cisco contribution. The video gives a short summary as Chet Namboodri, Cisco Industry Blogger-in-Chief and Global Managing Director of Cisco’s Manufacturing Industry Marketing interviews me about what was said, and the benefits Continental expects.

That event is where I met up with folks from Continental, AeroScout and Global Sciences  to hear from the customer first hand how the solution  is increasing production and efficiency in its North America manufacturing plant. That plant is located in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and it produces more than 1,000 different tire SKU’s in its 60-acre (2.6 million square-foot) facility.

The implemented solution leverages Continental Tire’s Cisco Unified Wireless Network to add a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) and automated Work-in-Process (WIP) tracking without having to install a proprietary network of readers and sensors. That’s key. Cisco provides standards-based solutions that work well with a customers backhaul, which, for most customers is also Cisco. Cisco’s Architectural approach means networking elements and processes work well together with ‘compatibility’ tested solutions such as those from AeroScout.

But now back to the customer… Read More »

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Cisco Partner Invite Reminder: Warehouse Management with Intermec

As part of the Manufacturing Impact Series, here’s a reminder not to miss the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Webinar set for Thursday 23rd June, 2011. It’s essential viewing and listening if you’re a Cisco resale or systems integration partner, or a partner looking to build a Manufacturing Practice and provide solutions to Manufacturing Industry Customer Care-abouts.

To be competitive, warehouse managers must deliver a high level of performance while reducing costs. Learn how the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Solution delivers the benefits of mobility to industrial environments, helping warehouse managers to stay connected with their mobile workforce, increasing asset visibility across warehouse operations, providing access to information at the point of work, and delivering intelligence to mobile workers. This is a solution webcast in the “Manufacturing Impact” partner enablement series.
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There will be speakers from Intermec: Dan Albaum, Senior Director Marketing and Bruce Stubbs, Director Industry Marketing. Jeff Rodawald, Partner Relationship Executive will be the speaker from Cisco with me, Peter Granger, as a panelist. Should be a great event with lots of folks already registered. If you’d like to register click the link: 

Click here to register for the Cisco and Intermec Mobile Warehouse Management Webinar

Date: Thursday 23rd June, 2011; Time: 11.00 am — 12.00 pm Eastern Time; (8:00 am Pacific) Place: Online.  Read More »

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Cisco Partner Invite Reminder – Context Aware Solutions

As part of the Manufacturing Impact Series, here’s a reminder not to miss the Context-Aware Solutions for Manufacturing Webinar set for Tuesday 21st June, 2011. It’s essential viewing and listening if you’re a Cisco resale or systems integration partner, or a partner looking to build a Manufacturing Practice and provide solutions to Manufacturing Industry Customer Care-abouts.

This seminar will focus on Context Aware Solutions. Within today’s manufacturing environments, tracking assets and people is crucial for promoting efficiencies in business processes and ultimately reducing costs and time to market. The AeroScout Visibility System accurately locates and tracks valuable assets such as equipment or people. By operating over Cisco® Unified Wireless networks, AeroScout solutions minimize the incremental cost for the communications network and enable greatly enhanced visibility throughout the enterprise. The solution can scale to include tens of thousands of tags, without affecting other traffic on the network.

Click here to register for the Context-Aware Solutions for Manufacturing Webinar

Date: Tuesday 21st June, 2011; Time: 11.00 am — 12.00 pm Eastern Time; (8:00 am Pacific) Place: Online.

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