Event Recap

Event Recap: Modern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XR

Aug 19
Alley Team
Event Recap

Event Recap: Modern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XR

Aug 19
Alley Team
Event Recap

Event Recap: Modern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XR

Aug 19
Alley Team
Community Over Everything

Event Recap: Modern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XR

Modern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XRModern Manufacturing: Closing the Skills Gap & Expanding Education with XR

Manufacturing employees are at odds with automation right now. There’s a shortage of skills, a sizable gap in learning & development, and machines are slowly absorbing jobs across the industry. Or so we thought—as it turns out, studies show that there’s an abundance of jobs in the industry right now, but a severe talent shortage is leaving them vacant. The end-all solution is not to replace employees with automation—instead, manufacturers can maximize output with cohesive collaboration between humans and machines. Before introducing a human-machine hybrid model, manufacturers need to expand employee skill sets, and fast. How? With immersive education—enter, XR. XR is changing the way the industry approaches education across the board. Coupled with 5G, this technology allows for immersive learning, increased accessibility, and rapid expansion of employee skill sets.

In this discussion, we hear how XR will shape modern manufacturing, and how this technology will enhance education across the industry.

Verizon 5G Labs:

Verizon's 5G Labs works with startups, academia and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges and more.

Mentioned Resources:

  • CTcreates.org/resources - CCAT manufacturing resources for students, families, and educators
  • CreatorsWanted.org - The campaign from the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute to build the modern manufacturing workforce of tomorrow – MFG Day is coming up soon with manufacturing awareness events continuing throughout the month!
  • CCAT.us - More information about the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT)
  • Ario - 7 Unexpected Workers That Manufacturers Can Hire to Kick the Labor Shortage
Cory Terzis
Verizon 5G Labs
Nicole M. Wolter
HM Manufacturing
Kensey Edwards
Noelle Tassey


Noelle Tassey  0:00  
In here, but to all of our attendees, thank you so much for choosing to share your Thursday afternoon with us. And a big thank you to our panelists as well. So, while we wait for Nicole, my name is Noelle Tassey, I am the CEO here at Alley and I'll be your host today. So for those of you who don't know us Alley is a community driven innovation agency that unites rich and diverse communities around the country, with our corporate partners to provide the resources and catalysts to drive positive change in technology and the world. So no big deal, but we do shoot for the stars here. And a huge thank you today to 5g Labs, Cory here is representing them. For those of you who don't know, Verizon 5g Labs, they work with startups, academia and enterprise teams to build a 5g powered world. So that's everything from working on 5g trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges and more. Please check out their website Verizon 5g Labs. Just follow all the amazing work that they're doing. So today to kick off our discussion on modern manufacturing, I'm going to be queuing in all of our panelists to just share a little bit about themselves. Cory, do you want to start us off?

Cory Terzis  1:15  
Yeah, we'd love to thank you. Well, hi, everyone. My name is Cory Terzis. As Noelle mentioned, I'm part of 5g labs at Verizon. And what I do is I help set up some externally facing programs and really try to almost predict the future, you know, as we explore all the capabilities of 5g and how they can, how that type of technology can link to other companies doing some really incredible things and just start to turn around industries such as manufacturing, and many others. And in ways in which we've been doing that most of the ones that I'm focused on are through challenges. Much like the built on 5g challenge that ended earlier this year, Pre-COVID and happy to have jumping the gun here, Noelle, but happy to have one of our top winner Ario represented in this panel.

Noelle Tassey  2:17  
That's right. And we're big, obviously built on 5g challenge fans as well here at Alley. So, Kensey, can I hand it over to you for your intro?

Kensey Edwards  2:28  
Absolutely. I'm Kensey Edwards. I'm the Marketing Director for Ario. Our mission is to build easy to use knowledge sharing products that put information when and where it's needed most using augmented reality. By providing this spatially relevant data. Our apps make it easy to access, capture and share knowledge in real time, helping to build a smarter, more digitally connected workforce. It's our goal for teams to feel empowered and confident when they step into these complicated work environments, increasing productivity and efficiency. In my role, I focus on helping to Build arios value across the manufacturing industry, focusing on how we can solve many of the problems that are facing the industry today. Thanks for having me.

Noelle Tassey  3:07  
Thanks so much for joining us. Yeah, we're we're huge fans of Ario, for those of you who have been with us from like day one additional panels. This is our second panel with Ario. And just learning all about all of your awesome technology. Kristi want to hand it over to you next for your intro.

Kristi Oki  3:25  
Thank you, Noelle. my name is Kristi Oki, and I'm the Advanced Technology Education Coordinator at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology. We're also known as CCAT. And we are a nonprofit organization located in East Hartford, Connecticut. And our goal is really to help support and strengthen the Connecticut manufacturing and technology base. And we do that by working directly with companies helping them to adopt and learn about new technologies. We also do a lot in the area of education and workforce and supporting income worker training, as well as a lot of STEM outreach and manufacturing career awareness outreach. In my role as coordinator, I've supported a lot of our STEM outreach programs. My own background is in mechanical engineering. And my own experiences have really led me to want to share, you know, my knowledge of engineering and also my enthusiasm for STEM careers with younger generations. I'm really with the main goal of helping to build our manufacturing career workforce pipeline, which I know we're going to be talking a lot about today.

Noelle Tassey  4:31  
Yes, we definitely well, and thank you again for sharing your time and expertise with us. It's a very, very important issue. Last but not least, Nicole, want to hand it over to you.

Nicole Wolter  4:42  
Yeah, thank you for having me. My name is Nicole Wolter. I am president and CEO of HM manufacturing. We are a small business second generation dedicated to power transmission components. So we do a lot of things for the food processing, beverage, packaging, medical, aerospace and defense sectors. So quite a mouthful, but we definitely dabble in a bunch of things. We produce gears, pulleys, splines, shafts, anything gear driven, conveyor belt. If it's fine, we're on it recently, we just kind of got into SpaceX. So that's pretty exciting. So now we can Now we can say that we're in space as well. So it's pretty neat to see the evolution of what we've been able to do product wise, and advanced in our services and capabilities as well.

Noelle Tassey  5:26  
That is super, super cool. I'm so excited to hear about them the evolution of your business. I'd imagine one generation ago you guys weren't working with SpaceX?

Nicole Wolter  5:35  
No. We're very much in automotive, which is a completely different sector and it you know, you've legacy programs, it doesn't really move, it really doesn't evolve. So it's really nice to see the differences.

Noelle Tassey  5:47  
That's awesome. I'm so excited to learn more about that today. And again, for audience members. Thanks for sharing an hour of your Thursday afternoon with us. Before we kick off and jump into the questions that we will Have the panelists make sure if you do have questions throughout the panel, hop into the q&a feature, feel free to ask us whatever. We will be selecting some of the questions to answer live. Okay, great. So we're gonna kick off with a question for all of you. So, a recent landmark report by Deloitte in the manufacturing Institute found that 24 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2028 if we don't take certain steps now, and personally, I was very surprised to read this given that I think we, you know, the common dialogue around manufacturing is in fact that, you know, there's a dearth of manufacturing jobs in America. We have workers who want to work and can't. So you know, this is for the whole panel. What in your view are the different components of this challenge? what's what's really driving this issue and why? And this is for all of you, so whoever wants to jump in.

Nicole Wolter  6:52  
I guess I'll start just because I see it very, very much so a part of what's happening in the stagnant areas of manufacturing. So I feel the reason why that's happening is because there's still such a bad perception of what manufacturing is. And I've been such a proponent of having shop tours, I've been very vocal with a lot of the local high schools here to try to get them to do some shop tours and understand that it's not dirty. It's state of the art facilities, we have machinery that is top notch full of technology, things that have iPads on them that you can just draw and use. And it's just a completely different visual. And I think that that hasn't been brought up as much. I don't think people have really been able to see the new spaces and what really technology has done and the smart manufacturing that we're developing and what we have, of course, you're still gonna have some job shops and the older kind of style of manufacturing, but overall, I mean, you have clean rooms, you have automation, and you have the AR, VR world as well, that is starting to take a big part of manufacturing and I think that's what's kind of missing is that there really is no help to try to have like this bridge of, you know, young generation to what manufacturing is. And so I think that's what's hurting it too. And we're not doing a good job of being very active and doing social media and trying to get that word out. And I think we need more people to kind of jump on that bandwagon and get more social and understand that the new generations are on Instagram, they're on Snapchat, they're on everything. They're not on Facebook. And as as a whole, the generation for manufacturing has to has to change its whole vision and its way of appealing to the next generation.

Kristi Oki  8:40  
And I'd love to add to that now, in terms of perceptions of manufacturing, we like to now say that manufacturing is lean, green and clean and it's really not what it used to be a certain number of years ago. And a big piece of that, like you just said is awareness and building more awareness among students, among families among the community, among educators. Building a more positive image of what the manufacturing industry is really like today, and what modern manufacturing looks like. And you mentioned all these new technologies that are now being developed. That means that the skills that are needed for these careers are also changing as well. And I believe that that has a big impact on the gap as well.

Noelle Tassey  9:22  
Definitely. Kensey, I want to head over to you as well, since we've talked about VR AR a little bit.

Kensey Edwards  9:29  
Yeah, absolutely. So I was gonna add on, you know, it's kind of a perfect storm, because not only our younger generations, we're trying to drum up interest for them to come and join the manufacturing industry. But 2.6 million baby boomers are in the process of retiring over the next decade. So it's not just that we're trying to attract them on the front end, we really need to capture that knowledge and get their expertise documented and really capture that inside the manufacturing facilities before they retire. So that we can pass it on to the next generation and from Ario's perspective. That's really what we built our company on, is understanding tha we have to have a way that we can take that expert knowledge, bring it inside our technology inside the manufacturing business as a whole rather than just living in someone's head. So that that way when somebody new joins the company, it makes it really easy to train them up, no matter if that particular worker is still there or not, or if they've chosen to retire or move on to something else.

Noelle Tassey  10:27  
Definitely, and Cory, last but not least, as you predict the future of 5g Labs, what are you saying here?

Cory Terzis  10:33  
Yeah, I think all excellent points here. I love the fact that Nicole, the spin that you took on it is really just kind of putting a new face on manufacturing, through social media and other means that would appeal to a younger generation. Obviously something a big stepping stone in, you know, getting to the core of the problem that Noelle had put out here as the initial question is, you know, how do we fill this gap? But going back to what Kensey said, and, you know, providing technologies now, to capture how to do a job correctly in order to cut down on that, that the ability for a new worker to get up to speed and start performing at a higher level. I mean, that's just a simple reality that is happening right now. And through technologies like Ario, and it's an absolute game changer. And I don't think that you know, you're going to be running into the same problem as needing to fill the jobs and being short staffed as Ario and companies such as Ario, are continue to rolling out, you know, game changing technologies.

Noelle Tassey  11:52  
And that's kind of the perfect segue into what I want to tackle next. And all of you have almost touched on this a little bit, but You know, it's really just about like how to tackle this as an issue, right? So I know that, you know, really, Cory just touched on a lot of these points and I'd love to hear from the other three of you. What are you doing to address this as an issue? Obviously, everyone on this panel kind of sees it coming and has a very different perspective on it.

Nicole Wolter  12:21  
I guess I'll start, so, when I first came to the company, everything was pretty stale. And I knew that of course, just like Kensey said, like the the baby boomers are going to start retiring and they're going to start kind of aging themselves out. And so I thought it'd be a good time to start reevaluating our processes and what we had technology wise. And then I was on the Education Foundation Board for a association called technology manufacturing Association. And I was put in touch with a lot of the local high schools and so now I actually have an internship program. It's a six to eight week program where you could either go out in the manufacturing floor space, and either learn on certain things. So sorry about that people just keep calling at random times. Or they could go out into, of course, I have an r&d lab as well, inspection or they could be in the office space. So they could learn engineering, they could learn about marketing, they could learn about sales and accounting, and there's just so many different divisions and avenues that people don't really realize go into a manufacturing company. And so it's paid, I paid $15 an hour, I think it's very important that we give them some sort of monetary value. They can go to McDonald's for 14 $15 an hour and absolutely have no brain power to do so. I think it's important that we pay them for their skill sets and what they're able to bring to the company. And it's actually gone really well because of that. I've had people that wanted to work during their senior year and then be offered a job. So because of that, I then started and transitioned into apprenticeship programs where they kind of go throughout the entire manufacturing floor space and we can kind of give them an understanding of what CNC lathes are, what milling is, what gear hobbing is what assembly is and kind of see like where their skill sets lie, and then kind of do that by hours. And then we send them to even more training so that they can be better programmers, they can understand how to do CAD CAM, solid works, and be able to run the machines efficiently. And then I pay for that 100% because I think that that is super important that you invest in your employees. And of course, word of mouth starts to go around. So they're like, Hey, I got a job and I'm getting paid really well and they're, they're paying for my training. They're paying for my education as well. And I have like a line of people that love to start going through. And I've learned a lot through them, which is really exciting because it's just a different way that they speak to you. Right and so they give you a different way of of content of Hey, Why don't you do this? Why can't you do this way? and they like challenge the status quo, which I think is super important so that you don't stay stale. And they're always innovative. They're always with this ingenuity mind and I think that that's we need to capture. So I've been very much on trying to get the local high schools to kind of give me their kids so that I could try to give them some sort of some sort of program and and help out as well.

Noelle Tassey  15:26  
That's so fun, super inspiring. Honestly, like, hats off. That's really cool.

Cory Terzis  15:34  
I think that's, that's pretty, pretty unique in what you're doing. Especially going down to the high school level. It's pretty cool. You're inspiring people as well as getting these kids skills while they grow up. Curious, how's the referral process? How do you, how do you think your apprenticeships are being communicated down the lower levels and are you seeing repeat enrollment?

Nicole Wolter  16:03  
Yeah, so it's been great because a lot of the guys here on the shop floor are all about it and they like to help. I think that it kind of gives them an exciting feature of their day that they can kind of give their skill set and kind of pass that down just like what Kensey was saying. Like you take that what's in your in your mind, you kind of pass it down and just great and, and they go back to their counters, they go back to their manufacturing teachers, especially here in Illinois, there's a big robust program of manufacturing that kind of surrounds us so that definitely helps. They're very much ingrained with manual machines and they do a little bit of programming so when they come here, they're learning a lot and so I'm I test them we they get tested every week to see where they are in the scope of their work, and if they're really advancing or not, and then they go back to their teachers and I also have a conversation and I say, Okay, this this person really wasn't meant for it. It was it was good to give them some kind of visual of what manufacturing is. Maybe they'll do something later on in life. But I try to give the schools kind of an idea of what I'm looking for, I would say don't want someone here super green, because that's very dangerous, but they at least need to have it two to three years of some sort of education in the machining world in their programs.

Kensey Edwards  17:20  
I think Ario, the big focus is making sure that the manufacturers have the tools that they need, so that the process is really seamless. So not only do they have their co workers that they can rely on, but they have the information actually placed at the different machines so that it really is just continuous on the job training. So this is the manufacturing industry is so unique, because if a machine goes down, we're not talking hundreds of dollars, we're talking thousands of dollars that can be lost very quickly in a matter of minutes. So really, it's it's a high priority to get the machine up and running more quickly. And when you're bringing in new people, they were trained and they're you know, they're looking for somebody to help them. But if the machine's gone down and they need the information right then and there, you want to make sure that they have that so that if their manager is busy, or they can't find them, they're not having to run back to a desk to try and find a manual and try and understand what that says. So for us, it's really a focus on the tools to enable that communication and enable that, that relationship and that knowledge sharing to really make it just a well rounded experience, no matter who they're who they're relying on for the information.

Cory Terzis  18:28  
I think that's a great point. And it's no secret that Verizon as a focus on manufacturing, and partnering with manufacturers such as Corning, and it's because inefficiencies in the manufacturing workplace in a warehouse exists, right and they exist at the human level. You know, the big reason why we wanted to award

..sorry my kids are here..

A big reason why these guys came in the first place is because, you know, we saw it, we saw the fact that they are involving technology into kind of solving some of those some points and inefficiencies. Give me one sec.

Kristi Oki  19:24  
Just to jump in in terms of the work that we're doing at CCAT, combining some of the technology with some of the education as well. We are trying to address multiple steps along the workforce pipeline. So we do a lot of work in the K through 12 space. So Nicole, it's great to hear about the work that you're doing with high schoolers and we work with middle schoolers, even some elementary school aged students and at that point, it's more about awareness and just showing them what careers are available through hands on activities. And like you mentioned, getting students on the shop floor to see technology in action is extremely impactful. And getting them to talk one on one with people working in the industry so they can really see and kind of get a first hand experience for what the industry is like. So that's part of the work that we do. We've also do work with job seekers and young adults and supporting people who are interested in considering careers in manufacturing, supporting online training, as well as on the job training. We have close partnerships with employers in the state of Connecticut, and we help to coordinate job placements as well. And then finally, sort of on the on the third level, working with people who are already in the industry with through incumbent worker training, exposing manufacturing employees to new industry 4.0 technologies, which is our current, no Industrial Revolution, the move towards as Nicole, you mentioned, smart manufacturing automation, you know, big data analytics, all of these things, and really supporting the manufacturing base in that way and helping to demonstrate to companies How these new technologies can be used and help supporting them and adopting them at their company.

Noelle Tassey  21:08  
Definitely something tells me that if I were to just jump off the zoom and shut off the participants and leave all of you in a room together, we would probably solve this problem in about an hour or so especially Cory's kid, Cory over to you, and our next generation of innovators, you know, we'll be talking about 5g later in the conversation. But when it comes to advanced connectivity, how do you really see that supporting these efforts, you know, especially like, just the leaps and bounds and technological improvement that we like, can foresee in the next two to five years? You know, I think we've touched on a lot of different areas where tech is the driver of this revolution.

Cory Terzis  21:56  
Sorry, I know. Yeah. I think it's important to understand 5G a whole on you know, what the what opening the spectrum is doing is really allowing you to do much more with technology and as you saw our next generation manufacturers think I'd left the room. But I, uh, but again, you know, bringing up in a warehouse you know, things like you know, a lot more robotic manufacturing a lot more computer vision is being enabled thanks to 5g lighting up a warehouse and manufacturing workspaces is allowing for, you know, places like archive, I'm going to continue to pick on audio just because I love the technology and very close working relationship with them. But you know, the ability to send a multimedia file in milliseconds across hundreds of yards saves you time, much like Kensey was talking and that time translates into dollars. Um, so so what we're doing, you know, is being it instead of buffering and you know, on a FaceTime call or having actual physical face to face conversation, which now in COVID is verboten, but, you know, being able to keep those efficiencies cut down on time and doing it all through technology, thanks to 5g is really why we're trying to get involved in this face and some of the problems that we're looking to solve.

Noelle Tassey  23:41  
Definitely, I'm then super excited to explore that a little bit more. So you know, we're gonna next sort of shift to talking about how we see jobs changing in this industry, as driven by the advancement in technology, right.

We have a lot of guest stars today. My name is Lola has a lot of fun.

Lola. Sorry, we're not home right now we've been quarantining out of state for a while, so there's a lot of strange noises. Anyways, Lola would would like to maybe come work for you, Nicole.

She's actually this is this happens presently. Lola. Okay. But anyways, you know, we're really seeing advancements in technology are driving a new set of skills that are needed in the manufacturing industry. And Nicole, you were just touching on this, you're talking about, you know, upskilling high school students and training them on entirely new software platforms and things like that. Um, you know, what are the kind of upcoming needs in this industry that maybe haven't been the case historically. And how does this change recruiting these kinds of jobs? Yeah, well, what's interesting about it is, interestingly enough today when I was doing this imts, it's called the International manufacturing technology show. And it's every two years, it's absolutely huge. It's when everyone that's an original equipment manufacturer comes out, and they show their latest and greatest advancements in the technology and their data, and what they can do for the manufacturing space. So today, they kind of rolled out something it was very new, very innovative, that I've never seen, but I was always excited to see how virtual reality was going to work in manufacturing. And they rolled it out today. So they have this thing. It's a maze that is the original equipment manufacturer that's doing it their latest greatest machine, it's called smooth. And what they're doing now is it's very automated in the sense of Of course, like the iPads and you being able to program and see a 3d model and kind of work with it just see If it's going to run properly or not, are kind of the issues you're going to have. And of course, then the machine talks to you and says, Hey, and so many cycles, you need to change this tool or so many cycles, the spindles gonna need to be repaired or regressed, or whatever the case may be. But now the cool thing is what we were not really having in, in our manufacturing space that was kind of going away with maintenance in a maintenance program and people that were able to do some maintenance on the machines. So the cool thing is now is that they put on this virtual reality headset, and will go to the back of the machine, and it literally will come out and generate and it'll start showing where the problems and the alerts are. And you can physically kind of like move things around and figure where it is instead of actually shutting down the machine and trying to figure it out on your own by tearing the machine apart or have to call maintenance because sometimes those machine builders take days, sometimes weeks to come out and then you're down. And of course that is the most astronomical thing that can happen to you on the shop floor, is losing all that money and not being able to be up and running. And so if you can, like, figure that out and see where the problems are, and then kind of have a solution with your maintenance program, say, okay, we're going to, we're going to offline for the next two hours, we now know and can pinpoint where this problem is and call your OEM and say, Hey, I need this type of spark to come out so I can retrofit it and get it back online. I mean, talk about talk about the advancements right there. And technology. I think that's such a cool thing. And so, you know, before where people were trying to figure out what they're gonna do with a maintenance schedule, or who they're going to get to try to help with these machines. It's really neat that as you start buying the new technology and the newer machines, this, this type of technology, smart manufacturing is available to you. And it promotes I think it's a really exciting thing for the younger generation to look at and be like cool, I can put this headset on and I'm going to be inside of the machine without having to physically be inside of the machine. And of course, that goes back to your Lean, clean and green feel, and how cool. So that's what I'm starting to see is those types of advancements.

Kristi Oki  28:08  
Wow, that's really exciting, Nicole, and just hearing about how maintenance is being looped into that. And because of all these advancements in technology, we're becoming more and more reliant on the equipment and with automation or robotics. So all of that is part of the process maintenance and being able to do that in a more streamlined way, is really exciting. Another piece that I wanted to touch on is that things are really changing and manufacturing and also in terms of how we are designing our parts and products. So for example, with something like generative design, if you have a part, maybe it's a bracket and you know, maybe it's just kind of a basic shape that you've been creating the same way for so many years. With generative design, you can now optimize the geometry of that part. So maybe you want to decrease the weight or decrease the volume and ultimately decrease the cost for your company and Because of the technology advancements in additive manufacturing or 3d printing, we're now able to create more organic shapes that generative design can help us to create. And we wouldn't have been able to do that, you know, without the technology that's been developed today. And sort of the the third piece of that is once you've created a part, you know, that has an organic shape, something that's kind of new and different. You also need to inspect the quality and make sure that it was created to the right specifications. So non contact inspection systems and scanning are also another part of technology that students and employees today have to be starting to think about what these new technologies are and be aware of them so that when students are ready to enter the workforce, they're familiar with these ideas and they're ready to tackle them head on.

Kensey Edwards  29:50  
Love it. Well, definitely. Nicole, back to your example. We have seen that frequently, specifically around in COVID times where a maintenance technicians is stuck in Europe and they can't travel to a location. And there's no end to when that person is going to be able to come. And for us like that, that is the ultimate use case. Because having our technology having tech, the augmented reality, you can provide really specific instructions into how to fix a machine when you are in the process of having somebody really far away. So I think that it's awesome to see that coming out. For us we're always based on our mobile first and based on using the technology that's readily available now. But I think it's going to be really interesting to see how that iterates over time and as you said as it as they start to build it into the machines and things like that, but it's definitely a use case that we have seen before where the maintenance technician is not local. No way to get there. Maybe you know, and you have to figure it out because you don't want that machine down for days and days on end.

Noelle Tassey  30:51  
Right. This has been so one of I always like kind of consider, at least for me, like the measure of success of our panels being like, Am I like learning a ton?  Which I'm learning so much from you guys just about the picture you're painting of manufacturing, right? Like, this is an industry where like when I was in high school, I think the perception of a job like this was just leaps and bounds away from what I'm hearing today, which is so exciting and so, so cool. And these are really amazing opportunities, right to take advantage of a really broad array of skill sets with a lot of opportunity for development for challenges. We've talked a little bit about youth engagement, and Kristi and Nicole, I know this is like, really near and dear to both of your hearts. And you've talked a little about, you know, social media and things like that. What right now is kind of the biggest untapped opportunity in terms of youth engagement that you guys are seeing and like getting out and telling the story because it is such an important one.

Nicole Wolter  31:54  
Yeah, I think it's just about being active. Like I feel like I'm everywhere all the time. And you just have to be available. And I try to go to as many conferences that I can. I try to do as many speaking engagements as I can I try to go to as many high schools as I can. And obviously now it's very difficult to do so. But I think as long as we have the social media aspect, and we can start promoting. For me, I promote the business non stop, and I try to do cool things with the employees because I have a very young crew. So my average employee out in the shop is only 36. So that's very young and I have anywhere from 18 up into the mid 40s. So I think as long as like the next generation, the students can feel like they belong, and they understand like, okay, like, there's one of me over there. And it's not just all these older people and older generations and they don't feel like they can see themselves there. I think that's important to showcase too. And of course, the new technology and, you know, a lot of the guys come up with like these weirdo Tik Tok stuff and so I'm like, whatever, just do it. Like if it means anything, hopefully it'll generate at some point but I think it's done well for us so far. And the more that I start to see like these hash tags with manufacturing and stuff like that, and this guy's named badass machinist on Instagram, and he's got like millions of followers out there. So that means it's working. So I think it's just about promoting and being a part of something.

Noelle Tassey  33:19  
I'm following this account right now.

Nicole Wolter  33:22  
It's really fun.

Kristi Oki  33:25  
And I agree completely, Nicole, just that whole awareness piece. And I love what you said that students need to be able to see people working in manufacturing that look like them and people that they can relate to. And that's just a really key part and building their own confidence that manufacturing is something that they can do, and it's an opportunity that they can pursue. I think another piece of it, too, is just kind of showcasing the diversity of manufacturing careers, and the diversity of industries. When people when we think about manufacturing, maybe you know, traditional metal manufacturing might be the first thing that comes to mind, but there are just so many more things outside of that medical devices, food, transportation. And for students nowadays, they, they want to be able to make an impact. And manufacturing is really a way to do that, because you're creating the products and all the items that you are using in your daily lives. So sharing that message with students really trying to inspire them. And I think you know, as you said, just showcasing the different technologies and showing them that it is high tech, and I was just on a webinar earlier today where someone said that today's eighth graders are tomorrow's employees. And we really have to, you know, keep that in mind as we're building these perceptions for them. And not only for students, but I think I mentioned earlier about for parents and families and educators as well because they're the ones that are interacting and seeing the students every day. So if we can help to build their positive perceptions as well, that will then impact the students and their decisions that they make in the future.

Noelle Tassey  34:58  
I love that and that really dovetails nicely with a question we actually got from the audience about what people in this field are doing to reach out to an upskill, let's say out of work baby boomers or some of the older generations where there is actually a desire to, to upskill To learn more, explore these technologies and potentially get back into manufacturing in a different type of job. You know, and obviously, that's, that's quite a large cohort of the workforce as well. So just be curious to hear if anyone's, yeah, that wasn't really a focus for us today. But are there any solutions you guys have seen that are working well?

Kristi Oki  35:38  
I'll jump in again. And again, I was just on a webinar earlier this morning with a group called on top potential. And they actually work with primarily focusing on women who have left the workforce, perhaps for childcare or other reasons, and helping them re enter the workforce, in the areas of manufacturing and other industries. So providing support in terms of networking, helping them gain experience and helping them to frame their experience as engineers or as manufacturers, so that they can then lead into careers in the in the industry. So that's just a quick thing that came to mind as as we just had that webinar earlier today.

Kensey Edwards  36:15  
Well, this is actually a use case that we've seen before. And when as we hope that as technology, like arios becomes more prevalent in the manufacturing workforce, they the manufacturers feel empowered to recruit from a lot of different places, including, you know, baby boomers who are coming back in, mothers, people who maybe don't line up perfectly with the exact experience, but have that potential and you just know that they're willing to work hard, because you have the training built in and you know that everything's documented, your processes and procedures are laid out, it's shown very clearly how things should be done. They have the resources, the information correctly associated with the different pieces of equipment. And this, like I said, this is a use case that we've seen and it really can make it easy For manufacturers to feel comfortable to step outside of somebody who has, you know, a very defined set of criteria and look at some alternative labels.

Kristi Oki  37:11  
Yeah, that's great. And I know we hear from employers too that, especially as they've had to make shifts with COVID-19, they've had to become more flexible as well. And just like you said, Kensey, maybe initially, they had this very strict idea of what they were looking for in an employee, but, you know, they have to be willing to be open. And it's important for them to adapt and to be open to the talent pool that is available. And maybe it's a non traditional path, but there's still a lot of value in that.

Kensey Edwards  37:39  
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I mean, I think about it when, especially when it comes down to training, like even in a traditional job, you show up on your first day, you get told a whole lot of information. You're trying to remember it as you go to, you know, to start actually being productive. Take a manufacturing environment and that's times 100. Because there's like I said before, there's so much on the line if a if a production goes down, you're losing thousands of dollars a minute. So really taking that training and extending it. So it's on the job, it's in full context in real time. It's it really empowers the the manufacturers to feel like they can trust people to come onto their factory floor and get the job done and keep their production rolling forward in a way that without that technology, you're a little bit more nervous, because you're like, are you sure you understood that? Are you sure you understood the training that we talked about? Are you sure you're ready to go. But now you really can feel confident that people are able to step out there and get right in and rely on their mentors and check with their co workers, of course, because it should be an inclusive technology, not something that excludes people from the process. It should be something that really makes them feel even more involved in in what they're doing and even more excited about it.

Noelle Tassey  38:47  
In fact, we talk a lot on these panels and actually 5g Labs about kind of technology as a driver of inclusion and like expanded opportunity rather than kind of increasing existing social and economic gaps. I think it's just like such a powerful point there. And, Nicole and Cory, if you wanted to jump in on this at all?

Cory Terzis  39:09  
Yeah, sure, it's inclusion on on both ends of the spectrum that we've been talking about some of the younger generation and also the older generation. I, just when I was getting my MBA, we read an outdated case study on how technology could come in. And, you know, robotics could take over the manufacturing industry, as we're seeing that that's not really the case. There is a human element that needs to be infused in manufacturing, no matter what. And the beauty is that we what we're seeing today is, there is no real reliance on technology. But technology can be used in other ways in order to speed up the process of onboarding and training. And that's really where you're Reliant. You're actually giving back time to the old ways of trading and giving back time to your employees and bringing your new employees up to speed much faster and keeping your machine your processes running smoothly. And it's it's kind of nice to see the fruition of that case study being proved wrong and seeing so many huge milestones in the manufacturing industry be hit

Nicole Wolter  40:26  
Yeah, I mean, to kind of go on that point. I think there's a lot of untapped resources for the manufacturing industry. I currently have a military vet that's with me now. And they come with just such great skills, not necessarily manufacturing, but things that you can completely build on. And of course, like women, women that have been in the workforce that have been stayed home moms are now looking to do something else. And the older generations I mean, there's always something for everybody. Everyone that like comes to me, obviously I have a training package and everyone has an onboarding Training and I send everyone through this like LMS thing that some of the local organizations have. And it's about blueprint reading. If you're interested in learning about intro to machining and programming, even CAD, I mean, there's so many different things that are available that you could learn that don't necessarily quite require a lot of time or monetary. You know, value. I don't mean like this is not expensive, but you could definitely do for like $200 like you get a full course load. And of course, I would pay for that. I just think it's super important that you just allow your employees to just advance and I think that the company benefits more from it by doing something like that. And there's just a lot of tools out there. Of course, there's colleges, local colleges that have these type of resources and networks out there. And there's always training available. It's just, you just got to Google and figure out what it is that you're looking for and see if the company that you might be be interviewing for is willing to do that. And I know for me I am and a lot of people that are hurting for talent no matter what age were willing to do those things as well.

Noelle Tassey  42:11  
That's really, really cool. And it's also just so interesting, sort of on the training side, to Cory's point about, like that case study that you read in school and how like, in fact, robots aren't taking all of these jobs, they're actually making these jobs more compelling, more challenging, engaging, you know, and I think that's been a very, like, interesting theme of this conversation. Kensey, and Cory this one's kind of for you guys. Obviously everyone else feel free to jump in. But when you think about you know, XR being used around learning, training and engagement in this industry, what are your What are you seeing now and what are kind of the current limitations in a 4g world and how do you see with advanced connectivity and 5g that kind of jumping forward?

Cory Terzis  42:57  
Yeah, I mean, immersion is the name of the game. There's I mean, if you if you're able to interact with technology, it's kind of like the way Nicole the example that Nicole gave earlier, you know, putting on a VR headset, pulling a piece of equipment apart and finding out what's wrong seeing the actual inner workings. It leads to, you know, more engagement, which leads to better levels of learning and training and understanding what goes on inside, you know, a piece that you're working on. And what 5g is doing is really enabling all these technologies to not only be present in the warehouse, but also take with you on the go. You know that that mobility piece is essential to manufacturing workers, especially when you're working outside if you're in the, you know, the Newport News shipyard. It's a massive field and some of the outdoor areas you're not going to get great Wi Fi coverage. So if you're able to ping, You know, a 5g radio, you still have that super quick, reliable speed where you're able to do all of this immersive, engaging, work with all these engaging tools and technologies in order to, you know, perform your task at a much better pace. And I'm sure Kensey, you'd love to speak a little bit more on that mobility piece and what artists do in the space.

Kensey Edwards  44:24  
Yeah, absolutely. So we completely agree. From our perspective, 5g is going to allow us to provide an even richer experience as latency is reduced. So a lot of our technology, we use large 3d models that drop into the actual field of view of the worker so that we're really providing very clear and concise directions or to employees are providing each other very clear and concise directions about what they're actually working on. So with lower latency, there won't be any lag when somebody moves an arrow from one spot to another on their phone, it'll move automatically so there won't be any gaps in the coverage. It just makes that conversation that much more seamless makes it feel like you're in person that much more. So right now on 4g, our apps work great, but it'll be an even richer experience with even less latency, which is what we're really looking forward to.

Noelle Tassey  45:15  
That's super cool. And Nicole and Kristi, kind of from the adoption side, and just general engagement in the field side, what do you guys sort of see as, you know, the impact of technologies like this?

Kristi Oki  45:31  
Yeah, I think

Nicole Wolter  45:32  
I was.. sorry, Kristi

Kristi Oki  45:33  
No, no. I was just gonna say that I really agreed with what some of the things you said earlier, Nicole, about the importance for companies to invest in their workforce. And we hear the same thing from the companies that we work for that they're looking to give people a career, not just a job and they do want to support their employees and their own professional development, and upskilling. And even if you know some of the companies, we hear from our not necessarily ready to be adopting these new technologies, they can start getting their employees ready. And you know, investing in their employees learning also associated with increases in top quality and job satisfaction and ultimately benefits the employer.

Nicole Wolter  46:18  
Yeah, absolutely. I know, you know, modern technology and all the things that are happening is expensive. And you small companies it's a big investment. You have to figure out where you're going to go with your money. And what you're going to do. Are you going to get a new employer and a new machine? Are you going to do data collection, and are going to do an ERP system. So there's a lot to it. I think it's just what we've been doing is we've been doing it in buckets. So the first thing we tackled was an ERP system and now we’re using scan and it's live tracking. The second thing that we did was have all the machines online, so it is on an app, you can see what's running, what's not the efficiency rates. And then the third thing we did was kind of dive even deeper to get that data collection to see what machines are really being efficient when they're running certain jobs. What's happening are the speeds and feeds going down? Do they have problems with the tooling and that kind of troubleshooting aspect. So, you know, it's been really neat to see the evolution of technology in a data driven world of manufacturing and what's happening. Really nice to see that everyone is on board with it. No one's really like, Oh, great, like, more things shes throwing our way with technology, everyone really is excited about it. And then when it doesn't work, then they all come and yell at me. So I'm gonna come and yell at you guys for the 5g stuff. And I just think it's a really neat situation of what's all what's all panning out and it's expensive, but it's worth it. And the more that you just keep doing little by little, you start to see you're generating more within your advancements with your capabilities and services as well as the people out on the floor. And of course, the customers love it when they can log in and see where their product is at that time. So that's really cool on a manufacturing front that I don't have to have customer service constantly tracking down live jobs, they can go in and see where things are too. So I think it's fantastic. I'm excited to see what else starts to happen in that type of space.

Cory Terzis  48:21  
I think Noelle jumped off, with that, but I just follow up on that piece, you know, I mean, 5g is here, it's, you know, it's Verizon, you know, is taking great steps to roll it out as quickly as possible, obviously, I think that in the coming year, so in the next two or three years, you're going to just see continuous leaps and bounds and technology that's stacked on top of technology and great innovations in the field. So while it might not be all seamless, just yet, It's an absolute Game Changer and something that could just completely disrupt this industry as well as others.

Noelle Tassey  49:11  
Definitely, I'm sorry about that guys I think my wifi just went down for a minute.

Cory Terzis  49:15  
Try Verizon.

Noelle Tassey  49:19  
Don’t worry in in our 5g future, this will not happen and we will be in VR it will be great. So this being in the future, 5g and just kind of actually look into the immediate future, right? Obviously, we're doing this remote, because we're in a pandemic, um, in some ways it has been great, right? Because we can all be in one place right now. But, you know, how would you guys say COVID changed the way that you think about digital solutions in this industry specifically, and how do you see that really having a lasting impact on on manufacturing?

Cory Terzis  49:59  
I mean, just The streaming capacity needed to well, Stream paw patrols so my kids don’t come in in the middle of virtual phone call. But the streaming capacity needed on a worksite has increased tenfold, right? I mean, people can't be there, be in physical locations you know, congregating in mass and unfortunately some jobs call for that teamwork and physical connection. So in order to replace that with streaming is a possibility today, I think that there's there's room for growth in that area and just to watch the initial innovative, every measure that have come since March up until now, had been pretty incredible for everybody to go through. Um, the one thing that came out of COVID for me personally is like, Hey, this is doable, virtual is doable, and being you know, permitted to technological advancements in following technology. I love it, you know and love to see, you know, when faced with a challenge, who comes up with a great opportunity, who sees it up as an opportunity to come up with a great product?

Kensey Edwards  51:15  
I'll follow up to that Cory, because I definitely agree. I think that if you'd asked us in the end of 2019, if you know manufacturing jobs, that there could be a remote component, I think we'd all have been saying, Probably not, you know, it's a lot of hands on. But our industry has been stretched to its limits. And now we can kind of take the best practices from what we've seen in the pandemic and figure out how to go forward. But at the end of the day, at least from arios perspective, really having your information documented and your workflows defined allows you to have your people on the factory floor if that's necessary. If people need to work remotely, there is technology out there that allows them to collaborate as though they were together. So it's now turning to that inclusive technology, really looking at it in a new way and bringing it into the manufacturing industry. And I that’s actually as you talk about the younger generation, that's really going to get them excited because they're going to think the idea of working of being able to work remotely some in a manufacturing capacity, that, you know, that's going to be appealing to them. And technology like ours enables that to happen and enables them to step onto the factory floor and know exactly what to do or to get a hold of a mentor who's in another state if they need that. So I think really leveraging technology in an inclusive way, is something that will be really interesting going forward.

Kristi Oki  52:30  
Yeah, you're so right, Kensey about getting the youth excited about manufacturing. And with everything that's happened, you know, students today are being you know, if they weren't already, they're being forced to become more familiar with digital platforms and communicating in these means, which means by the time they're ready to enter the workforce, they're going to already be familiar with it. It's not going to be something foreign to them, and hopefully, you know, that will help them to be better, better prepared to embrace all the new technologies that the industry will be using.

Kensey Edwards  53:02  
Absolutely, yeah, we definitely agree. I think it's it's just a really great opportunity. It def, I've read a bunch of articles about how digital transformation is. It was five years away. And now it's here. And I think as Cory said, I think a lot of us enjoy it. And I think it's something that can really work in manufacturing, when the right tools are in place.

Nicole Wolter  53:22  
Yeah, I would have to agree. I mean, COVID really accelerated what we needed to have on the shop floor. And I was afraid during this whole time, no one really knew what was happening with COVID. And I still didn't have to stagger my shifts yet, but I thought it'd be a really good idea to go and have this slick text situation. And instead of walking around the shop and be like, hey, production manager, or foreman, I have a question or something's not right. And then kind of getting everybody involved. It was nice that we could use some of that technology and be like, Hey, I have a question. Hey, when you have time, something's not going right and kind of do it on an iPad situation versus like going around and infecting the shop and not really knowing Who has what? or What's happening? So, it's been really nice to see the advancements just in a short amount of time and how people have adapted to it as well. And you know, COVID is not over, and it's not gonna be over anytime soon. So I think manufacturers doing a really good job, but just adapting to it and trying to figure out new solutions. You know, my dad was like, I can't get rid of them even if I try, is 77 and he had the hardest time letting go of letting people be able to work remotely. And he just said, no one's gonna work, no one's going to do anything, they're just not going to pay any attention. I've actually gotten more out of my team, working from home, and especially on the engineering side customer service, they feel like everyone's really been able to just work really hard and still get stuff done. And even more so just because they have that flexibility and they still were able to come to the company if they felt comfortable to do so. But like you, like everyone was saying like we have to be a little bit more flexible manufacturer needs to learn how to be flexible, because no one's going to be like the old school mentality. Like if you're not at, you know, if you're not in your office you're not working. And I think that's that's a nice thing to start showcasing is, is the work life balance situation. And this is just accelerated even more so.

Kensey Edwards  55:14  
Well, it's interesting to talk about this like text, we one of the things that we integrated into our app, because we're built specifically for manufacturing audience is the ability when you do a video call to message over top of the feed, so you can drop augmented reality vectors into the space and then if it's loud, which most manufacturing floors are, you can message over top of it and still have that conversation. But it's funny because it's easy to just say, oh, we'll just do a video call. But in the manufacturing space, there's so many intricacies that go into a manufacturing floor, you really have to, it is very specific the technology that you need. And that's something from an artist perspective that we're very, we spend a lot of time talking to customers and a lot of time really understanding that use case because it is a very complicated work environment. It's not just this You push a button and the machine runs. There's so much that goes into it and technology, we have the onus on us to make sure that we're building technology that works in your environments and that it's really functional and easy to use.

Nicole Wolter  56:17  
That's awesome. I love it.

Noelle Tassey  56:21  
Yeah, that's that's so cool. I mean, it feels like honestly such a bright future for this industry. Especially kind of with this new wave of you know, more skilled, cleaner, greener manufacturing jobs. I'm so excited to kind of hear all of you guys get the word out and then to see also how advanced connectivity really amplifies this shift. I can't wait to see rise on Tik Tok, Obviously. I'm still trying to figure out how to use it. Our team is like you should probably be on Tik Tok. I’m like Sorry, guys. Anyways, um, I know we're out of time today. I just want to thank all of our incredible panelists today for sharing their vision for the future of this industry. And it's really just so incredibly exciting all the opportunities here and I appreciate you sharing your expertise. To our attendees, thanks for giving us an hour of your afternoon. And this conversation has been recorded and it will be available tomorrow on our website Alley.com if you'd like to share this content with your community, and follow us on social and sign up for our emails, if you'd like to join us next week for our continuing event series. Thank you all so much again, and have a wonderful day.

Cory Terzis  57:33  
Thank you.

Kensey Edwards  57:34  

Nicole Wolter  57:34  
Thank you.

Kristi Oki  57:36  
Thank you

Read Next