November 16, 2021

A yellow “Creators Wanted” wristband was my ticket to the inside of a new experience in educating and encouraging young people on the opportunities for careers in manufacturing. Before taking my adventure, I listened to Mike Lamach, Executive Chair of Trane Technologies and Chair of the Board for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), introduce today’s manufacturing to a group of area high school students as “not boring, repetitive or dirty.”

Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute tells the students that the “Creators Wanted experience is for you” as she highlights how there are more than 1 million jobs available in the manufacturing sector today. A passionate speech to the student visitors about how creators of our time are responsible for so many manufactured items we depend on such as the telephone with its changes into today’s personal device was delivered by Jay Timmons, the President and CEO of NAM. He challenged the students to “see yourself among the ranks of the creators in this country.”

There were many stations on the plaza at the host site Central Piedmont Community College to visit while waiting to join my group for the “immersive experience” included in the Creators Wanted Tour Live which is scheduled to be in Charlotte on November 16-19. After a quick stop at the popular DJ station, I spoke with a couple of my colleagues from the NC manufacturing support ecosystem including Melanie Underwood, Existing Industry Expansions Manager of EDPNC and Joel Sprouse, the new Charlotte area Member Relations Manager of the NC Chamber.

My group was finally called to the entrance door. The experience was a cleverly designed “escape room” activity where manufacturing information had to be gathered and puzzles needed to be solved to open doors throughout the race against a clock. The students in our group were solving things before I even understood what was going on. That experience shows that our future is quite bright if we are successful in our efforts to find the next generation of creators.

My greatest experience of the day; however, came as I was stopped on my way out by the president of a local machine shop that had a display table on the plaza. The NCMEP logo on my jacket had been recognized and a connection was made to our Clocking In manufacturing podcast. Go figure! The next several minutes were spent discussing the company, the North Carolina machine shop businesses and ideas on how we can partner in building a state network of machine shops along with utilizing our help at NCMEP with exploring opportunities for the company to generate ideas and create new products for their markets. We committed to scheduling a visit for me to the factory and of course, I recruited for an upcoming podcast episode highlighting the 74-year-old family business and its leader. #CreatorsWanted #NCMEP