An Email Chain Full of Surprises and Ideas for Engaging Youth

I love when a string of emails turns into a pathway for new ways to engage our youth and educate them about moldmaking and the larger industry of manufacturing!


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It all started with an email from Frank Schnobel, retired director of marketing at Pelco Tool and Mold in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and member of theAmerican Mold Builders Association Chicago Chapter Education Committee. Frank’s email conveyed a newspaper clipping from the October 6 edition of the local Daily Herald newspaper. The headline was “Skilled Workforce Needed for Future of Manufacturing.” It was submitted to the paper by Fran Eaton of the Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois. Directing his comments to fellow committee members, Frank simply said, “Found in local paper and thought you might be interested.” We all were.

Here’s where the email chain begins, and becomes one filled with thoughts and ideas and a little surprise (it happens a lot with this group, as everyone is very engaged via email and otherwise). Todd Schuett of Creative Technology Corp. responded by saying: “MAN! I LOVE THE OPENING SENTENCE!!!!

‘Available: Six-figure position with limitless potential and opportunity that requires no education debt and offers employer-paid training in the high-demand STEM field.’ Hard to beat an opener like that.”

Then, Alan Petrucci of B A Die Mold, Inc. emailed: “Hey Todd, agree with you on that opening sentence! Kick Ass! Suggested to the TMA people a few weeks ago, after the meeting on apprenticeship training, that the manufacturing trade associations should join forces and dollars and get on the TV or other media outlet with promotions. What do you think?”

Todd: “Thank you, Al. My executive summary would be that I think we should keep doing what we are doing and more of it, working steadily through thick and thin to create more and better awareness of what we do and opportunities in the field. More press and news reports like Frank's example cost little and can be highly effective.” Todd went on to include a few additional suggestions, not the least of which was to “keep on marketing moldmaking careers with our job fairs and other efforts with teachers. We all need to continue to promote the industry via our neighbors, schools, churches, etc. to help put it, and keep it, on the career landscape.”

Bill Genc from TopSolid / Missler Software, Inc. (also the son of the AMBA’s 2017 Mold Builder of the Year, Joe Genc of Graphic Tool Corp, MMT’s 2017 Leadtime Leader), then shared his thoughts with everyone: “I've been thinking a lot about ways of enlightening the youth of today recently. Especially when it comes to manufacturing and engineering. And I wonder about the future generations beyond as well. Everything that kids today have is basically instantly available to them. And this starts with information. Think about it. Many of the daily ‘life’ challenges that we all faced years ago are easily solved by Google and YouTube today. Is your dryer not drying? Google it with the model number and watch a video on how to fix it. My point is that the mystery and the challenge of just figuring it out is all but dead. So if this is the new norm... How do we challenge the youth of today and tomorrow to put some of the awe and inspiration back into their lives?”

Good question, and one the AMBA Chicago Education Committee has been pondering for a few years now. Bill continued: “For me it starts at home. I try to do little engineering projects with my kids. Setup failure and work out how to fix something. For example, a few weeks ago, we built a catapult together. The first few versions failed fantastically! But with each failure my kids learned what didn't work until we got to a version that did. It was a ton of fun.” 

Kids playing with a catapult they built with their dad to learn how to make something.

“I guess what I am getting at is that in our efforts to impress the youth of today and tomorrow, I think we need to challenge them some as well,” Bill concluded. “Think of why each of us got into manufacturing and why we are all still here. Isn't that part of the message we need to portray?”

Todd Schuett also made the following suggestion to the education committee: “When is the last time you visited the Museum of Science and Industry? This can be a great place to capture kids' imaginations. I was recently there with friend’s six- and nine-year-old boys. I especially enjoyed the "Dream Big" movie. Lots of really neat stuff. I wonder if we could get involved in anything there with our new CNC and a mold to show? Would they allow us to participate in showing careers in our STEM fields some other time with more notice?”

The Chicago AMBA is now considering participating at the next STEAM event at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I love when a string of emails turns into a pathway for new ways to engage our youth and educate them about moldmaking and the larger industry of manufacturing!


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