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From the Desk of Jack Healy

Setting the Bar for Investing in Manufacturing's Future

Jack Healy – The voice of manufacturing in Massachusetts
Jack Healy –
The Voice of Manufacturing in Massachusetts

By Jack Healy, Director of Operations, MassMEP jackh@massmep.org

After a decade, of serious economic change, positive attitudes in manufacturing are not the commodity that they once were. Companies who do not believe in the future are focused on controlling their costs and minimizing any kind of investment, especially investments whose returns are realized many years from now. Siemens is most definitely NOT in this category. 

On April 16, 2014, a unique event was held in the equally unique setting of the restored Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts. The event featured Eric Spiegel and Chuck Grindstaff, two gentlemen with the very positive and welcome view that U.S. manufacturing not only has a very bright future, but is a future in which their company, Siemens, is willing to invest.

Building_the_future.pngEric Spiegel, President of Siemens USA, and Chuck Grindstaff, President of Siemens PLM Software, attended The Atlantic magazine's Building the Future event to announce their grant of $660,000,000 in software that is being made to 13 technical high schools and community colleges throughout the Commonwealth.

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Eric Spiegel and Chuck Grindstaff, Siemens Industry USA; Representative Jim McGovern

 

Manufacturing's Software Revolution
There has been much discussion about closing the skills gap and the need for business involvement. With this grant, Siemens has set the bar way beyond anything that has ever been seen before in this state, and probably the country, as well.  Siemens' grant of two thirds of a billion dollars is being made simply because the company believes that the new Manufacturing Revolution — currently enabled by software — can only be sustained by qualified and trained people.

PLM software has fostered a new revolution by allowing manufacturers to customize products that can be designed, engineered, and manufactured with the efficiency and quality of mass production. This allows U.S. manufacturers to respond quickly to local needs, providing a competitive advantage vs low cost, offshore competitors.

Students_PLM_software.pngThe Building the Future event was planned and organized by The Atlantic as an invitation-only audience of approximately 300 people.  Unfortunately, an opportunity may have been missed in that there were about 2,300 seats left in the theater that could have been filled by the parents of middle school children, who would have heard both the events speakers and the panelists tell them that their children, with the right education, would be readily hired to fill the needs in the manufacturing communities. 

It would have been an opportunity to hear Dr. Gail Carberry, President of Quinsigamond Community College, describe the opportunity to earn a baccalaureate degree in engineering in three years at a total cost of $30,000. Attendees would have heard the industry panelists state salaries for entry-level technical skills in manufacturing that allow for the adequate repayment of student debt.

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Jack Healy, MassMEP

Mr. Spiegel was explicit in describing that software will create a new middle class. This is the same middleclass that has enabled biotech, digital tech, clean tech and Advanced Manufacturing to take root and grow in Massachusetts. Governor Patrick spoke at this event and noted that these advanced industries have grown exponentially. This era of advanced hardware and advance software is providing new proficiencies, which Mr. Spiegel is supporting with this two thirds of billion dollar investment. His goal is to provide our schools with the necessary tools to educate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers who can sustain and nurture this revolution.

All we need now is to provide the students, which is why we may have missed an opportunity by not having parents in attendance at this event in order to hear what is happening in manufacturing. As was noted in the program, "Americans believe that manufacturing is our most important industry."  This belief is unfortunately countered by a survey of 18 -24 year olds who choose manufacturing career field as their next to last career choice.

The enormity of this gift is in stark contrast to those manufacturers who resist training their own employees, because they feel that there will not be an immediate or justifiable return to their bottom line.

The Siemens grant is all about leadership. Its intent is threefold:

  • To establish a culture of innovation which is linked to manufacturing,
  • To help organize nurturing organizations for manufacturing such as schools, labs and governmental organizations, and
  • To enable education and training systems that support real growth.

To this end, Siemens and The Atlantic magazine will be holding similar Building the Future events across the country in such cities as Philadelphia and Chicago. In Chicago, President Obama just awarded $40 million dollars to make a Digital Hub in the city. 

Thanks to Siemens and Mr. Spiegel, Massachusetts now has the wherewithal to become a digital state.  

A Great gift from a Great Company for which they have our sincere THANKS!

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