Industry Market Trends

Trade Show Preview: Gathering Schools Together at IMTS

Mar 06, 2014

This year at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, the Smartforce Student Summit will once again get students, young adults, and educators engaged in manufacturing with keynote speakers, interactive exhibits, meetings, and face time with industry members.

It has been well documented that manufacturing faces a severe shortage of skilled workers. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show there are currently more than 300,000 unfilled positions throughout the manufacturing sector. This shortfall is unsustainable if the United States is to maintain a strong manufacturing base. That is why it's essential for young people to learn about the opportunities available in manufacturing.

The Smartforce Student Summit at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2014, taking place September 8-13 in Chicago, and with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, will convey the importance of having educators and students gather together to interact with manufacturing. They will be able to see the latest in manufacturing technology and explore career opportunities.

As STEM academies and programs are growing at middle schools and high schools around the country, at IMTS this year, students will hear from keynote speakers that include Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way, who will discuss the role of STEM education in equipping students with the skills and experiences that will prepare them for success.

Gregg Fleisher, chief academic officer of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), will also speak about the importance of STEM education. "These young Americans will be the next innovators of the future," said Fleisher.

Rounding out the distinguished speakers is Dr. Karen Flammer, co-founder and senior science advisor of Sally Ride Science, which provides tools for college and career readiness that can build students' passion for STEM fields and careers. The focus of Flammer's keynote will be on the lasting impact that teachers and manufacturing professionals can have on students when they demonstrate to them real-world careers. In-person contact is the best way to build student interest.

AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology, producer of IMTS 2014, has sent out invitations to all of the schools that attended the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2012 along with hundreds of other schools. Schools that are interested in taking their students to attend the summit have to begin planning in order to go through the approval process.

At the summit at IMTS 2012, more than 9,300 educators, administrators, students, and parents attended the event. Every other year, IMTS draws 100,000 manufacturing attendees, providing a vehicle for manufacturing to reach and engage students.

Manufacturers are encouraged to rebuild their relationships with schools in their local communicates by participating in advisory councils, and creating mentorships, internships, and apprenticeship programs. Companies especially in the five states surrounding Chicago are encouraged to make aware to schools the summit. Administrators, educators, and guidance counselors, and students will benefit from the firsthand view of manufacturing.

Students have long been a part of IMTS, with school groups, scouting troops, and others touring the show floor to gain an understanding of the technologies utilized within manufacturing. The Smartforce Student Summit will ramp up the student experience at IMTS by offering speakers, hands-on displays, and a chance for students to interact one-on-one with young manufacturing professionals.

Schools can find more information about the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2014 on AMT's Facebook profile and the summit webpage on The summit is also on Twitter, @IMTS_Summit. More information on Smartforce, including videos, is online at


Executive Portraits for AMTGreg Jones is vice president of Smartforce development at AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. For more frequent updates about industry certifications and Smartforce, follow Greg at Twitter, @GregoryAJones. Based in McLean, Va., AMT represents and promotes U.S.-based manufacturing technology and its members - those who design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology that lies at the heart of manufacturing. For more, visit AMT's website at