We visited a client yesterday located about 250 miles away in northern Michigan. This was a very cool manufacturing operation. Short version is they build huge electronic valves that sit atop oil drilling pipe extending thousands of feet down from ships to the ocean floor. Very complex, very expensive, very high-tech equipment.
We walked the plant (we’re working with them to help improve MRP, inventory, etc.), and later at lunch Iwas sharing my excitement with someone over the amazing range of manufacturing sites we get to visit in our work. Over two decades and scores, maybe hundreds of plants, we’ve seen how a lot of stuff gets made. It’s always fascinating.
And I thought to myself, how many people — and more to the point, how many young people — get to see this stuff?
Manufacturing has long been touted as that proverbial ‘backbone’ of our industrial nation. You hear it all the time. Just like you hear about our rapidly dwindling manufacturing base. The offshoring. The loss of jobs. And so on.
And I thought, the problem is, kids hardly ever get to see this stuff. They probably think manufactured goods just grow (or show up?) in stores. Did they ever see how their favorite toy, or food, or household item gets built? No.
Now, not that schools aren’t having a hard enough time these days educating kids and keeping the standards up, but… would it hurt if maybe one-half day a year, for maybe grades five through eight, every kid had to tour a local manufacturing facility of some kind? If just one kid in each class made a subsequent career choice that took a new direction because of that simple introduction to how things get made, why… it could change the world.
Nah, too simple. Besides, it would take kids away from History. Or Social Studies. Can’t have that.