Do you remember being a child? A kid, not a pre-teen, a child. Who showed you how things were made? Who asked the question, how do you think it does that?
I remember being on a wooden roller coaster on the NJ Shore during a trip for a sibling's soccer tournament. It was late on a Saturday, maybe late afternoon or early evening and I was going up the roller coaster in the middle of the car with my dad, a mechanical engineer. As we could hear that slow, click, click, click, cha-chink, cha-chink… he asked me, how do you think they figured out how to pull the car up here? He then pointed out how small the chain pulling us up looked. Then we hit the top and went racing down and the whole time I thought, who figured this out? How did they do that?
In my current job, I'm often an ambassador for manufacturing careers. I point out to my own kids – constantly apparently – that pretty much everything around them was manufactured. The chair, their allergy medicine, the refrigerator they love to stare into, the car, my smart phone, their favorite Girl Scout Cookies. They're used to it now, but too often when I'm out speaking to kids and I ask about manufacturing they say, "manufacturing, that's boring and old" and I hold up my smart phone and ask them where they think that came from.
But here's the secret. It's not the things we make that makes the impression, it's the people who make them. Yes, each one of you. That's why it was so awesome for me to see the wonder my own daughters expressed when they heard the stories and the jobs of the 100 Honorees and the 30 Emerging Leaders who were honored this month at the STEP Ahead Awards, being recognized for being the best of the best in our sector – leading in their companies and communities – today.
One of the best parts of the STEP Ahead Awards program is talking to the honorees and hearing their amazement that they were selected and learning about what they have accomplished. But the most inspiring part of the program is hearing them pledge to Pay It Forward and engage the next generation so that they can inspire wonder and maybe even spark a lifelong love for the sector that makes everything in our lives possible.
Whether it's with your own children, engaging students in your local school or at a club or after school activity, be the one who sparks wonder. Or think bigger, start talking to your facility about how to host an event for students, parents and community leaders on National Manufacturing Day and show off the amazing things you do each and every day in manufacturing. Click here to learn more about National Manufacturing Day on October 4, 2019 and join the grassroots nationwide movement to engage our next generation of makers.
So, it's your turn… who sparked your wonder?