SME, MMA: Engineering turns world upside down

Funny as a crutch generally means something isn’t funny, but John (Mac) MacIlroy, Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA), president and CEO, got some laughs recently by pointing to his crutches as a positive example of engineering value. Upside down thinking can....


Detroit, MI – “Funny as a crutch” generally means something isn’t funny, but John “Mac” MacIlroy, Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) , president and CEO, got some laughs by pointing to his crutches recently
“I’m a recovering attorney,” MacIlroy admitted with a sheepish grin. “I had trouble keeping my crutches upright as they leaned against the table. An engineer sitting with me suggested that I turn them upside down.” That, of course, worked perfectly, providing a wider base to keep the crutches from sliding to the floor.

MacIlroy says engineering and better policies can help turn the economy around.

The analogy fit MacIlroy’s key points as he addressed those gathered for “A Passion for Manufacturing, 2008 SME Annual Meeting & Interactive‘Unconference.’” We need to turn things upside down to refocus on the value of engineering, he suggested, which can address U.S. economic competitiveness concerns, here and abroad. He suggested we apply the right innovations and action plans, while cultivating an attitude for change.MMA, an advocacy group representing manufacturers, primarily at state level, serves as an advocate for engineering at the legislative, regulatory, and judicial areas. 
Not just cyclical
MacIlroy explained that current changes aren’t just cyclical. Manufacturing and competition are global, and there’s pricing pressure worldwide. Two and a half years after a 2003 study, policies (taxes, litigation, healthcare, and regulation) grew from adding 22.4% to cost of doing business in the U.S. to more than 31%, he explained. In addition to moderating and reducing those artificial costs in ways that make sense, U.S. manufacturing must continue to innovate to preserve economic prosperity and national security.
eed skill sets to compete globally. “Policies and politics matter. We must work to provide the platform to allow engineers to innovate daily.” CEO presentations on the MMA Website provide more information.

Policy, economy: Cyclical manufacturing or fundamental concerns?

Left to right: Duffie, Faughnan, Meliska, and Strunk continue to work to show the real value of engineering to others.

To help encourage innovation among young engineers , Neil A. Duffie, UW-Madison professor, gave three awards to engineers 35 and younger to recognize their efforts. Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Awards went to:
Paul Faughnan, project leader, Strategic Manufacturing Processes Group, manufacturing engineering, Pratt & Whitney ; Greenheck Fan Corp . and Brock T. Strunk, Spirit Aerosystems Adam Aircraft ). Duffie said they worked to reduce manufacturing lead times, increase productivity, and instill engineering innovation in processes. SME lists 7 other

SME's Tomlinson says there are too few key technology workers in the U.S.; more young people need to pursue manufacturing engineering.

Workforce development, shortages
Mark C. Tomlinson, SME executive director and general manager, told Control Engineering that despite some beliefs that there are plenty of engineers around, workforce development is the biggest issue, with a shortage of key technology workers across the country.
Curriculums and resulting skill sets need to eliminate confusion about what manufacturing engineering is to encourage young people, Tomlinson suggested.
One way is to spend time with a young person at the Manufacturing is Cool site, to learn about Gateway Academies and have some fun in the meantime.
–  Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk
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