For the fourth consecutive year, Manufacturing Engineering recognizes 30 individuals under the age of 30 who are making a difference in manufacturing and STEM fields. These young people deserve recognition for their accomplishments in a field that gets unfairly branded as dark, dirty and dangerous—or even worse, as a career of the past.
This year’s group of honorees prove that nothing could be further from the truth. We received over 100 nominations, our highest amount yet, with submissions from multiple industries—automotive, aerospace, additive, medical, automation, robotics and more, proving that manufacturing is not only alive and well, but is adapting and advancing.
Several nominees made sure to point out that while manufacturing is a challenging and rewarding career, it’s also fun, often in ways the general public might not expect. One honoree, Andrew Siwicki of ABB, helped to program the robotic piano Lady Gaga played at this year’s Grammy Awards.
Another honoree, Ashley Buchner of FCA US, leads the Virtual Assembly Group for the automaker and uses motion capture suit technology. “A lot of people think we play with video games,” she said, “but it’s in a manufacturing setting. It’s a cool and powerful tool, that’s for sure.”
Many of this year’s honorees mentioned a toy or competition that sparked their sense of wonder about manufacturing, such as Legos, K’Nex and FIRST Robotics. The show “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel, which documents how everyday items are manufactured, got a few nods as well.
The takeaway from all of this? Manufacturing can be fascinating and fun, especially when kids are allowed to be curious, take risks and experiment outside of the classroom.
Hannah Kalinowski of Boeing said it best. “As a kid, even if you don’t know the word engineering, you’re kind of always just doing engineering,” she explained. Let kids get creative and get their hands dirty, and above all, teach them not to be afraid of failure. Maybe then, the skills gap will shrink.
Read all of the 30 Under 30 2016 Profiles as a PDF.