MCAA Board member, Bharat Naik (Reotemp) brought to my attention an article in the July 20 Industry Week about a program in a South Carolina school where manufacturers mentor 6th graders on “STEAM” projects. Read the article.

First, let me confess I have never seen the term “STEAM” which inserts “ARTS” into what I know as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). Apparently some feel that we also need us liberal arts types to be able to manage graphics and communications. I don’t disagree with that but I don’t think its why we have a problem with filling jobs in American manufacturing today. But inclusivity is wonderful. I suppose.

More importantly, I found the concept reported in this article very intriguing because ANYONE OF OUR MEMBERS COULD DO THIS LOCALLY WITH VERY LITTLE EFFORT. Yes, I wrote in caps to shout out to you. It seems pretty simple. If you have a relationship with a local school (kids, grandkids, neighbor kids), go over and talk to the principal. Suggest a mentoring program. Try it for just one class. Ask a small number of your employees to join you to outline a project appropriate for the age group, work with the kids on their assignments and pour into them your enthusism for what you do, how it affects the world and how they could take it to the next level.

Our own Workforce Development Committee, chaired by Todd Lucey (Endress+Hauser) has approved the outline of an event to be held in concert with the Industry Forum next April in Nashville where we hope to bring in middle school students from the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for a show & tell event to introduce them to the world of process controls. Not a job fair–just an opportunity to open their eyes to the possibilities. We hope the Nashville School Board will approve our field trip and start what we hope will be an annual event wherever our Industry Forum is held.

Seems to me you could do this in a very meaningful way right in your own backyard by setting up a mentoring program with a local school. Help your company find great employees down the road.