Don’t Miss One Critically Important Aspect of IMTS

I can’t wait for IMTS, which will take place in Chicago from September 12-17. There is so much to see in the way of new manufacturing technologies and so many new people to meet – but that’s only one of the reasons I can’t wait.


Students learning about advanced manufacturing at the Smartforce Student Summit during IMTS 2014. Image courtesy of IMTS.


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I can’t wait for IMTS, which will take place in Chicago from September 12-17. There is so much to see in the way of new manufacturing technologies and so many new people to meet – but that’s only one of the reasons I can’t wait. While most who attend the International Manufacturing Technology Show will be walking many miles among the machines that saw, mill, grind, finish/polish, 3D print, EDM, automate and control CAD/CAM and more, there will be another separate but critically important part of the event taking place in a section of the North Building, Hall C, of McCormick Place: The Smartforce Student Summit.

This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the Student Summit, which provides an interactive and fun way to expose students from grade school through college to viable career opportunities in the world of advanced manufacturing. Think of it this way: Who do you think will be running all of these new machines you’re looking to invest in for your companies? The IMTS Student Summit is a truly valuable resource. More than that, admission is free for students and their teachers, administrators and parents – the very people our industry needs to convince that manufacturing is a clean, high-tech and very rewarding career path.

Take some time during IMTS to visit the Student Summit. You’ll find students of all ages participating in many interactive exhibits, including 9 new manufacturing-related challenges:

  • Design It! – Students will use 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software from Autodesk to design and create models of Googie (space-age) style rockets. Teachers can download the software and free lesson plans, projects and courses that will help with the challenge here.
  • Make It! – Students can make a 3D printed rocket and test their trajectory and stability in a special air power flight-test silo.
  • Tool It!Sandvik Coromant will host interactive, educational games where students will learn how manufacturing affects almost everything they use or encounter in their daily lives.
  • Machine It! – Those Googie-style rocket bodies and nose cones from the Design It! Challenge will also be used by Haas Automation Inc. to show students how they are machined using a state-of-the-art Haas ST-10 lathe.
  • Measure It! – Students learn to operate a DuraMax CMM from Zeiss and run the CNC measurement program to see if their rockets meet precise specifications.
  • Automate It! – Both Festo Didactic and Haas Automation will show students how automation is becoming a vital part of today’s advanced manufacturing environment. Students will learn how to operate a robotic arm and grippers to complete machining tasks.
  • Weld It! – Students will compete in a virtual welding experience to test their abilities, knowledge and speed as a coaching application guides them through two 20-minute simulated welding projects.
  • Weld It with Robots! – Like the Weld It! Challenge, students’ test their abilities to perform two 20-minute welding jobs quickly and accurately, only this time they use robots to do the actual and realistic (but simulated) welding angles.
  • Build It!Pre-registration is required for this challenge, which pits experienced mechatronic student teams against teams of industry professionals in a WARDJet waterjet cutting machine build-off competition. In other words, teams will plan, wire, wrench and assemble their own waterjet systems, which will be judged and scored by WARDJet experts using set criteria. The extra cool part? The student teams will compete to win a waterjet for their school’s machining lab! Very exciting.

The IMTS Smartforce Student Summit’s theme is “Manufacturing Brighter Futures.” It’s true. Beyond even the exciting challenges that await enterprising young minds, community college and engineering school students will find a career fair, called the Smartforce Career Launch Pad, that can help hook students up with an internship or perhaps even a job. Students who register to attend the Summit can upload resumes ahead of time here, to connect with potential employers.

With all of this and more going on in the North Building, Hall C, there is no doubt that thousands of young people from throughout northern Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and other neighboring states will gain a wealth of experience and inspiration about manufacturing and the opportunities it offers. I really hope that anyone reading this will pass the word on to their local schools if it makes any sense at all, logistically, for them to attend IMTS. We all know that the sooner we can reach students and their parents, the more likely they are to consider entering the manufacturing industry as adults.


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