Press Release Summary:
According to Mark C. Tomlinson, more than 1,100 jobs are available on www.sme.org through the SME Jobs Connection with manufacturers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says medical equipment and supplies manufacturing will grow 1.2%, aerospace product and parts manufacturing, 5.4%, and plastics product manufacturing, 2.0% in the next decade. Certifications help save jobs and the SME offers outreach efforts online and via camps. Scholarships can be applied for until February 1, 2009.
Original Press Release:
In a Rocky Economy, Where to Find Good Jobs, Opportunities, & Scholarships
DEARBORN, Mich., November 4, 2008 - As many Americans worry about the stability of their jobs and many have already experienced layoffs, there are some career choices that are safer than others during a rocky economy. One of those careers is the vast field of engineering.
While engineers, on the whole, develop processes and innovations which make our world work, manufacturing engineers, in particular, help keep production - the backbone of the North American economy - running. The demand, however, for their unique knowledge and skill sets often outpaces the supply of those qualified to do the work.
Where the Jobs Are
"We have more then 1,100 jobs available on www.sme.org through our SME Jobs Connection with leading manufacturers. Companies like IBM, Apple, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Shell and Boeing are looking to SME to find qualified engineering, supply chain experts, or other types of applicants. These jobs are concentrated mainly in California, Texas, the Northeast, the Southeast and international opportunities are open throughout Canada and even as far away as China," said Mark C. Tomlinson, executive director and general manager of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
Yet, the prospect of hundreds of well-paying and high-level opportunities does not always bring a flux of applicants
"The jobs are there, but we need more skilled applicants. Many of the postings on the SME Jobs Connection board average just a few applicants," said Tomlinson. "And with 75 million baby boomers starting to retire, the demand for highly skilled technical employees is going to continue to increase. SME is helping to offset this need by creating awareness that manufacturing remains a vital segment of our economy, training and educating current manufacturing practitioners in the latest technical advances, and inspiring our youth to consider engineering and other technical career paths."
Some Good News about North American Manufacturing
Despite reports of manufacturing's decline, particularly in the auto industry, there is good news about North American manufacturing. In particular, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the following manufacturing industries would experience significant growth over the next decade:
Medical equipment & supplies manufacturing +1.2%
Aerospace product & parts manufacturing +5.4%
Plastics product manufacturing +2.0%
And just how does this translate into dollars and cents? For instance, the Aerospace Industries Association projected industry sales at $195 billion in 2008 alone, while the Fortune 500 listed the top 15 medical products and equipment companies posting combined revenues of nearly $62 billion for 2007. And market projections for the medical device market are expected to reach $120 billion by 2011. (Source: Manufacturing Engineering: Medical Manufacturing 2008 Yearbook)
"As the economy struggles to rebound, medical equipment, devices, implants and the R&D behind these industries have the great potential to not only boost our current economic outlook, but also create well-paying jobs. And these jobs will largely rely on science, technology, engineering and math skills and should remain a good bet particularly as North America faces the prospect of 75 million baby boomers retiring, aging and relying more on healthcare resources and products," said Tomlinson.
Certifications Can Make All the Difference for Engineers
As the North American job market becomes increasingly competitive, even in-demand engineers often need more training or certifications, particularly when cutbacks find their way to the profession.
Stephen Cox CMfgE and project manager of Radar Systems, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center can attest to this.
"My job was saved because of my certification. Cutbacks were scheduled in my engineering department, all engineering staff were in danger," he said.
"However, there was one job for a Lean Six Sigma professional which was fully funded, including training. Many applied to this position, but I was the only one with a proven familiarity with the topics, as evidenced by my Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certification from SME. I got the job!"
SME has built a well-known reputation for workforce development through its manufacturing and lean certification programs which boast more than 50,000 individual certified professionals. And to enhance the programs' recognition, the Society has also formed partnerships, for example, with the Engineering Management Certification International, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and the Shingo Prize.
Where the College Scholarships Are
While SME provides access to jobs and certifications for the current generation of engineers and other manufacturing professionals, it is also a resource for scholarships and youth programs designed for the next generation.
Since its inception in 1979, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF) has awarded more than $25 million to universities and students. But like there is a shortage of engineering job applicants, there is also a shortage of students interested in pursuing engineering careers.
As SME-EF Director Bart Aslin explained, "We sometimes don't receive applications for every one of our many scholarships. So the money remains available until a qualified student applies and is selected."
In total, the Foundation received only 385 applications last year. Aslin, however, is confident that the number of applications will rise dramatically in the wake of the current credit crunch which has left many parents and students scrambling to pay for college.
SME-EF Makes Engineering Cool for Kids
Why there are fewer engineering scholarship applicants may lie in the perception among many U.S. students that only so-called "nerds" take an interest in STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and math). This was confirmed in a recent study by the American Mathematical Society which revealed that "U.S.-born white and historically underrepresented minorities" often view STEM activities, or particularly math, as extracurricular activities as "uncool."
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF), however, is working to change this perception through its innovative marketing and outreach efforts. For instance, SME-EF hosts two Web sites: www.smeef.org and www.manufacturingiscool.com. In addition to its website, the manufacturingiscool.com site allows young people to scroll over items such as a cell phone and a laptop to be introduced to successful engineers and watch videos.
Offline, SME-EF presents a series of summer camps held around the country and this year, welcomed nearly 3,100 students at 170 Gateway Academy camps. Through fun exercises, led by mentoring engineers, middle school students build cars, robots or launch rockets and, above all, get hands-on exposure to the STEM subjects. Next year, SME-EF plans to host more than 200 Gateway academies in 2009.
Keeping North America Competitive With the Next Generation of Engineers
Aslin said that "attracting students when they are young and giving them hands-on experience is crucial to filling the manufacturing workforce pipeline."
And Tomlinson concurs that building this pipeline is essential for keeping North America competitive in a "world is flat" economy.
"Every material thing that we have from a pen to an airplane was made possible by the efforts of engineers. If we don't have enough of them to help keep North America production running, we'll fall behind as a global innovative and economic force," he said.
"We've got to change how engineering and STEM curriculum is perceived in American culture because there is nothing "uncool" about understanding how the world works or becoming an inventor. What if Henry Ford had listened to his detractors," Tomlinson said. "And if you think about it, some of the most successful people in industry excel at these skills whether it's Bill Gates, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, or inventor Dean Kamen. We have parents who hope that their children will grow up to be doctors, lawyers, maybe even Wall Street bankers, but it's our ongoing mission to do everything possible to add engineering or inventors to the career wish lists of young people."
To search SME Job Connection's more than 1,100 jobs, please visit www.sme.org/jobsconnection. Or to learn more about applying for one of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation's many scholarships, please visit www.smeef.org. All high school, undergraduate and graduate student applications are due by February 1, 2009.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is the world's leading professional society supporting manufacturing education. Through its member programs, publications, expositions and professional development resources, SME promotes an increased awareness of manufacturing engineering and helps keep manufacturing professionals up to date on leading trends and technologies. Headquartered in Michigan, SME influences more than half a million manufacturing practitioners and executives annually. The Society has members in more than 70 countries and is supported by a network of hundreds of technical communities and chapters worldwide.
About the SME Education Foundation:
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation was created by SME in 1979 as a means of transforming manufacturing education in North American colleges and universities. As one of the nation's leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing manufacturing education, its approach is to inspire youth to pursue careers in manufacturing; support students studying for a career in an engineering-related field, and prepare these students to participate in a global economy. The Foundation has provided more than $24 million in grants, scholarships and awards. Visit www.smeef.org.