Are you having a hard time convincing your family and friends that manufacturing is not a boring, greasy career? Are you concerned about the brain drain in manufacturing, and why fewer college students today are choosing a career in this industry? Below are some fun ways to generate interest in your profession.
Take a factory tour: Behind-the-scenes plant tours bring to life the mysteries of how stuff is made.
Airplanes in Washington: At the Boeing Everett factory tour in Seattle, visitors will see 747, 767 and 777 airplanes in various stages of flight test and manufacture. The facility is the largest building in the world by volume at 472 million cu. ft.
U.S. coins in Colorado: Observe the massive production of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters from coin-pressing through counting and bagging at the U.S. Mint in Denver.
Automobiles in Michigan: The Rouge Plant walking tour at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., lets you witness a lean and flexible manufacturing operation. See the final assembly of new Ford F-150s from an elevated walkway. A virtual reality theatre provides a 360° view of how automobiles are made.
Bats in Kentucky: The baseball bat manufacturing process is on display at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Ky. Each bat is 95% complete in 40 seconds by a single machine.
Ice cream in Vermont: Witness the transformation of basic ingredients into store-ready ice cream using state-of-the-art machines at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury, Vt. The plant produces about 190,000 pints of ice cream daily.
Fire trucks in Florida: Watch the fire truck assembly process from the frame to the water pumps in Ocala, Fla., at Emergency One.
Hands-on experience: Watching a process can be fascinating, but trying it yourself brings an added level of understanding. Science and technology museums can be found throughout the United States. Here are some unique examples.
The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, Calif.: Within a condensed microchip fabrication cleanroom, you'll learn about the people, processes and environment required to make a microchip.
The Works, Edina, Minn.: In the Gears & Gizmos area you can explore gears, pulleys, cams, other mechanisms and simple machines. Learn how to change movement and create your own gear-driven contraptions.
SciTrek, Atlanta: Catering specifically to young people, but fun for adults as well, this museum turns science and technology into child's play.
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E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, Additive Communications, at Sheila@addcomm.com.