By James A. Lorincz
In case you missed the beginning of the revolution, don’t worry, the Maker Revolution, 21st century vintage, is well under way, has been for some time, with Fab Labs and Maker’s Faires, and will continue. Marshall Gartenlaub, PhD, provided details about the Revolution’s scope at the 2012 SME Annual Conference held June 3-5 in Cleveland. The training challenge to global manufacturers lies in satisfying the demand posed by 10 million jobs that can’t be filled today because of the skills gap. "The winning countries will be those that develop the most talented human capital, which is the most critical resource." Milestone markers along the way toward training and educational initiatives needed include the NAM-endorsed manufacturing skills certification systems and some interesting ideas like "stackable" certifications, Mozilla open badges, and lifelong learning badges.
Putting teeth into educational programs and even fun into STEM learning is central to initiatives of the SME Education Foundation that were highlighted at the annual meeting. SMEEF has invested $5.2 million in STEM over five years, initiated its PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) program with leading organizations, businesses, and exemplary schools, and developed "The Manufacturing is Cool" interactive Web site.
SME Annual Meeting attendees also heard from presenters about the advanced technologies that will shape the future of manufacturing. Additive manufacturing, ceramic matrix composites, and advances in superconductivity that can levitate trains, accelerate particles and power MRI machines were highlighted. NASA will continue to be a leader in space with more than 72% of the International Space Station of US origin. Meanwhile, NASA is actively pursuing "reimbursable" business using its competencies of people, facilities, and intellectual property, an intention that was signaled in its first ever Manufacturing Exposition held earlier this year at NASA Glenn.
Blue sky is never too far over the horizon when talking about trends in advanced technology. William Estrem, PhD, painted a picture with a Big Data cloud in it. Big Data will become the source of endless analytics, the potential for global mobility, and, unfortunately, introduce increased concerns about security. The order of the day to participate in a recentralized airy business environment will be BYOD (bring your own device) to the Cloud party. The exploitation of Social Media and mobile media, already well under way, will ultimately lead to doing more with less. CAD in the clouds, the battle for ERP supremacy, design for a cause, and personalized DIY will energize the Maker Revolution globally.
And where better to see the latest developments in tools for Makers than in this IMTS 2012 Preview Issue, and, of course, beginning Sept. 10 in Chicago at the exposition itself.
This article was first published in the August 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.