Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.
Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.
Please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Deb: I work in manufacturing, but I worry about the future. Should I advise my kids to get into the industry?
Certain jobs out there have seen better days. Maybe if your kids have expressed an interest in repairing fax machines or selling cutlery door-to-door, you might want to push them in another direction.
But manufacturing? Absolutely, yes, 1,000%, it’s a viable profession in the coming decades. With one caveat: It likely won’t look like the industry you’ve worked in. And that’s not a bad thing.
We’ve covered this before in previous columns, but there’s a host of exciting emerging opportunities in manufacturing, from cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to augmented and virtual reality. Fields that don’t even exist yet will reveal themselves in coming years.
You might think: “I’m not sure little Johnny wants to make parts when he’s older.” But what you might not realize is that when children play, a lot of their interests are tailor-made for a future in manufacturing.
My grand-niece Anna loves to play with her Legos. She loves designing lunar rovers for her space adventures. That’s not a huge leap from a career in engineering. Her older sister, Charlie, received a STEM robotics kit for her birthday. She’s 12 and already built something that looks like R2-D2! Designing, building and maintaining robots will be a big part of digital manufacturing’s future. I can see Charlie heading in that direction.
And that goes for anyone who buys Duplos, Rigamajigs, Magnatiles, K’Nex, and Tinkertoys for kids. Sometimes kids don’t grow out of playing, and that’s a very good thing.
Or maybe your kids are older, even young adults. There’s been a lot of investment in recent years in educational programs that help older students acquire technical skills.
Look at a place like Pivot Technology School. It’s a great program that helps people of color pivot into new careers like web development, coding or data analytics. Pivot also helps remove financial barriers to that training, and soon the school hopes to offer classes for high school students.
Ask your supervisor or local schools for other advice. Most likely, you’ll find programs geared for young people in your area too.
Back to my grand-nieces. When SpaceX launched its Starlink mission not too long ago, Anna and Charlie were in front of their TV completely mesmerized. I think it’s the best advertisement for our industry.
Who will design, build and pilot the space vehicles of the future? Judging from the gleam in their eyes, I think Anna and Charlie have as good a chance as anyone.
Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to email@example.com and she’ll answer as soon she’s done with her shift.