I’ve made it clear in the past that encouraging young people to consider a career in the process control industry–whether that is for our MCAA companies or our customers–is a passion for me and will remain so as I look toward the end of my career serving the industry.
During its most recent meeting, the MCAA Workforce Development Committee talked about ways that we can sharpen our focus to develop useful tools and roadmaps for our members to work locally to help elementary and secondary schools, community colleges and engineering schools bring our industry and its many opportunities to the attention of young people as they study and prepare for their future careers. Todd Lucey of Endress+Hauser is the chairman of that Committee and aa member of his team, Don Cummings, told the Committee about one effort that E+H has started with Purdue University.
They have worked through the Purdue Corporate Relationship Department (actually a more effective point of contact than the traditional “Career Development” department) to develop a Senior Design Project in the Manufacturing Technology Research Program that is part of the School of Industrial Engineering. In the past students have created some kind of machine: getting parts, partners, assembling, wiring, testing and finally creating an operational “something.” This year’s project has students building an instrument training lab which will have 4 zones so 8 students can use it at one time especially for water flow and process variables. E+H has provided funding, products and knowledge. They have had an unprecedented level of engagement with the students and professor (who had no knowledge of process controls going in). Members of the E+H team have held web conferences, conducted lectures on campus and had students visit their facility for workshops and demonstrations. I could tell, just listening to Don, that it has been a rewarding opportunity for the E+H staff and something highly unusual for the students!
I’ll be working with Todd and Don and others at Endress+Hauser to share that blueprint with other members who can help themselves at the same time they help their communities by teaching about our industry and its important career opportunities. If you have made similar contacts at schools, community colleges or universities and would be willing to share your experiences, we can move this process along so that more students in the future will have the opportunity to learn and develop the kinds of skills we will need in our industry and in our customer industries in the future.