I could never be a teacher but I have great admiration for them. I married one and I gave birth to one. My daughter is a high school chemistry teacher over in Richmond, Virginia. She battles every day to find the right way to get her students enthusiastic about the world of chemistry and how it impacts their lives–perhaps even in a future career! She’s a very bright woman and she could do a lot of other things and make a boatload more money than she does as a teacher. But she has a passion. She loves to see the look of discovery in a student’s eyes.

Her mother has a passion too. After nearly 36 years working alongside all of the companies in this industry and learning (and communicating about) their issues, I don’t think I have ever cared about any issue more than I do Workforce Development. Maybe its because I am at the end of my career and am looking behind me and mentoring my own team that I know the importance of passing on the skills and knowledge of a lifetime. I expect that the last four years of my career with MCAA will be spent talking with member companies, with school boards, with teachers — with any of a myriad of organizations which have taken up the workforce development banner and are working to increase the interest in advanced manufacturing and specifically with the process, measurement & control careers that await in both vendor and customer organizations. I hope it won’t be all talk–I’m the kind of person who will drive some action too–and I’ll certainly be driving the MCAA membership to action on this issue.

And there is a LOT going on already. I’m looking through 10 pages of notes I took at the Automation Federation’s Workforce Development Committee meeting earlier this month. I wrote down information about FIRST, Project Lead the Way, Change the Equation, “America Works” (the National Governor’s Association), the SME Education Foundation, summer institutes for career counselors and science teachers, community colleges, mentoring, flyers, advertising. It really does leave me breathless.

In the months to come, Workforce Development is likely to be a focal point of this blog and I will take it in smaller bits and bites to invite YOU to get active in this crusade. Because when you get to the point of looking back on your career as I am doing now, I hope that you will be able to say that you played a role in encouraging young people to see the process industries as a place where they can “Control the World.”

And oh yes, the Automation Federation will have a booth at the FIRST championship April 23-26 in St. Louis (contact Mike Marlow at Automation Federation about that). You can help by volunteering to man that booth and answer questions of students who are in the FIRST championship–they want to know what our industry is all about and what kind of work we do.

If you have a passion about your profession, please find a way to tell others!