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Raising The Level Of Manufacturing Career Awareness At The Middle School Level

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Our Future in Manufacturing: STEM Outreach

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Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1004.1 - 14.1004.7



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Paper Authors


Tom Brady Purdue University, North Central

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Tom Brady is Department Chair of Enigneering Technology at Purdue University North Central. He holds BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. His research interests are in manufacturing, computer simulation, and optimization.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Raising the Level of Manufacturing Career Awareness at the Middle School Level ABSTRACT

The State of Indiana has identified manufacturing as an industry critical to its economic well being. Despite the abundance of manufacturing careers and positions available within the state, students are not being adequately prepared for them, nor showing any interest in them. Workforce development agencies in the state zeroed in on the concept that the general perception of manufacturing jobs was not good and that parents were actually discouraging children from pursuing careers in manufacturing. To counteract this perception, the agencies sought partnerships with K-12 school corporations and universities to educate middle school age children on the current state of manufacturing enterprises and the careers available within them.

The Purdue University North Central College of Engineering and Technology partnered with the Indiana Center of Workforce Innovations to develop an outreach program aimed at exposing middle school age students to the manufacturing industry. The primary objective of the program was to show students, in a hands-on fashion exactly what the manufacturing environment of today looks like, what types of careers are available in the field, and, most importantly, what academic preparation is necessary for employment in the field.

The program was structured into three phases. In the first phase, students were introduced to basic manufacturing concepts through the use of simple assembly kits. The second phase involved visits to an air compressor manufacturing company and a candy manufacturer. The final phase linked the first two by requiring the students to construct an assembly line for their assembly kits based upon principles they observed during the factory tours.

In this paper, the design concept for the program is detailed and results gathered from pre and post program surveys are presented.


Over the last two decades, the United States economy has transformed from one based on manufacturing to one based on service. Manufacturing companies and jobs have been outsourced beginning with an exodus to Mexico in the 1980’s and China since. Numerous media sources have proclaimed that manufacturing in the United States is dead and nearing extinction[2,5].

The supposition that manufacturing will soon be extinct in the United States has been greatly exaggerated. What hasn’t been exaggerated is the decrease in the number of students that are interested in manufacturing careers[5]. The press is full of gloom and doom scenarios about the dwindling number of engineers and scientists being produced by United States universities and the impact that this will have on our standard of living[6]. Many national efforts are underway to attract K-12 students to STEM-type careers, yet little is being made with respect to the waning

Brady, T. (2009, June), Raising The Level Of Manufacturing Career Awareness At The Middle School Level Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4879

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