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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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The Customer is King

August 22, 2011 at 11:39 am PST

Thank you all for the warm welcome. I am very excited to join the community and look forward to interacting with everyone!

As Chet mentioned, I will be involved in expanding the social media platform for the Cisco industry team.

I am fascinated by the new relationships that exist between businesses and customers as a result of social media. In the old paradigm, traffic was mostly one way: customers were inundated with sales and marketing information but rarely given the opportunity to provide insightful feedback. Not anymore. Via social media, the customer really is king. Customers rightly now expect a relationship that is collaborative, on-demand, automated, and in real-time. A customer can become a renowned expert and evangelist for a company – or embarrass a company by publicly criticizing its customer service.

Smart companies will embrace and promote this new relationship. It’s the best customer focus group on the planet, and it’s free! However, social media isn’t the goal but rather the journey. A smart company will also have a proper social media strategy, not just a social media presence. This is where I hope to make my biggest contribution. The Manufacturing Industry team has embarked on this social media journey to engage with you, our audience.  We need to be leading the conversation, listening properly and reaching the right people.  I hope that you will join me in this exciting process as active members and contributors as I help guide that journey. Thanks again for the warm welcome, and stay tuned!

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Welcome, Andrew Lach, newest member of the Manufacturing Industry blog team!

Please join me in welcoming Andrew Lach to the Cisco blog and our Cisco industry team! Andrew joins us as a recent MBA graduate from Duke University and will be leading the development of our social media strategy and platform. Prior to Cisco, Andrew led a unique career in Biotechnology, first as a scientist and later as a technology developer. He has also recently worked with virtualization software product marketing in the exciting new field of cloud computing.

I believe that Andrew’s background will bring a unique, interesting perspective and skill-set to our team and blogging community. He has led previous marketing and social media initiatives including guerrilla marketing campaigns and YouTube content creation. We greatly look forward to joining Andrew in action as our Blog Administration Manager. Welcome, Andrew!

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Cisco Partner Invite Reminder: Warehouse Management with Intermec

June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm PST

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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