Elizabeth Engler Modic, Editor

MFG Day started in 2011 and four years later, on Oct. 2, 2015, President Barack Obama issued a presidential proclamation declaring the first Friday in October as National Manufacturing Day stating, “On National Manufacturing Day, more than 1,600 American manufacturers will open their doors and take up the important work of inspiring our young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Today’s science, technology, engineering, and math graduates will power the next chapter of American production and innovation, and harnessing their potential is an economic imperative.”

Five years later MFG Day went virtual, as most events are these days (see MedTech MindSet, pg. 10), but most schools are open in some capacity and this year TMD went to college with a group of senior biomedical engineering students in Kevin Grayson’s Design for Six Sigma class. An adjunct professor at North Carolina (NC) State University, Grayson teaches the class through a joint program between University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill and NC State. Before graduation, students must complete a senior project (for a different class) where they design a medical device. Grayson’s course helps them navigate that process.

This summer Grayson reached out to us, and we gladly shipped him a range of TMD back issues which he gave to his students. His directive: read through the issues and pay attention to the articles and advertisements to learn who the industry players are; find industry people to connect with on LinkedIn; gain additional insight on topics covered in lectures; and maybe find a company willing to fund their senior design project.

Students who take Grayson’s class, pass the test, and apply Design for Six Sigma methodology to their senior project – which must be defended and which Grayson mentors them through – will graduate with Green Belt Certification.

“I’m holding students to the same standard that our professional development is held to,” says Grayson, whose day job as part of North Carolina’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is helping manufacturers in the state implement ISO 9000, 14385, Six Sigma, and lean manufacturing. “The industries that recruit our graduates appreciate it, and this really gives our graduates a big selling tool on interviews to prospective employers because they are carrying certification worth $3,900 before their first day on the job.”

As manufacturers seek to fill 4.6 million high-skill, high-tech jobs throughout the next decade, classes such as Grayson’s and a virtual MFG Day are preparing the future generation.