The daughter of an Eli Lilly and Company engineer, Abigail Hamilton – Abby – knew early on that engineering as a career appealed to her. “I liked that it’s a field that requires critical thinking and there are no ambiguous answers. It’s driven by facts, not opinions, and it’s technical.”
At 17, Abby was a timid high school student at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis and she was looking for more opportunities to learn about engineering. Mr. Hanson, her teacher for Computer Integrated Manufacturing, a Project Lead The Way course, encouraged her to apply to the Conexus Interns program.
Abby was excited by the opportunity and applied to the program immediately.
More than 140 college students tackled how to improve manufacturing or logistics operations to drive long-term growth and sustainability in cases simulating real world scenarios. The competition resulted in more than 15,000 in cash prizes for the winning teams, but also gave students a first-hand look at why they should stay in Indiana to pursue advanced manufacturing and logistics careers.
With the support of Indiana’s industry leaders, Conexus Indiana hosted 6 days of case competitions in Indianapolis for post-secondary students from colleges and universities in Indiana and Texas. In addition to the case work, students networked with industry professionals, participated in career fairs and were inspired to be among the new talent that will fill the thousands of high-wage jobs.
Stu Kaplan has been involved in manufacturing since he was 8 years old – long before OSHA was established. Now, decades later, he’s on the leading edge of Industry 4.0, manufacturing micro-parts in Shelbyville and engaging high school students to build the next generation workforce to succeed in an increasingly high-tech industry.
Kaplan has not only witnessed the evolution of manufacturing, but he has harnessed the power of technology to operate his small-scale injection molding company on a 24/7 schedule. He makes tiny parts for just about any product you can think of – from medical devices to electronics. And, he’s got a great history of riding the advanced manufacturing wave and embracing technology.
How do we reach students early to get them excited about manufacturing? That’s the question Purdue University’s IN-MaC (Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center) posed.
One of their answers is school makerspaces that offer an opportunity for elementary, middle and high school students to experience a unique environment within their school walls to explore technology, design-thinking, problem-solving and creative skill sets.
Tong Jin “TJ” Kim, Associate Professor of Industrial Design in the Department of Art & Design at Purdue University, helped IN-MaC design one of the first of these makerspaces, which launched in 2016 at Burnett Creek Elementary School in West Lafayette, Ind.