Manufacturing Day ... every day

Author Alan Richter
December 22, 2017 - 11:00am

The mood of MFG Day, the annual celebration of U.S. manufacturing that took place Oct. 6, doesn’t cease after the plant tours and information sessions end and the participating students, parents and educators head home.

“MFG Day is more than a one-time event,” said Dave Tilstone, president of the National Tooling and Machining Association. “The spirit of MFG Day lives on throughout the year. We know that the more people learn about modern manufacturing, the easier it will be to recruit the workforce our industry needs to remain competitive for
the future.”

One program NTMA employs to attract young people to the industry and keep them engaged in manufacturing is its National Robotics League, Tilstone said. Students at junior high schools, high schools, tech schools and occasionally junior colleges design and build 15-lb. (6.8kg) robots for battle. “They are competitive robots that fight to the finish,” he said. “It really lights up the interest of the students when they see their robots and how they operate.” 

Tim Golling of Jergens Inc., Cleveland, leads a panel discussion on MFG Day at the workholder manufacturer’s facility. Image courtesy of Jergens.

Tilstone added, “It’s a great way for young people to be exposed to the industry in a way that they find interesting and exciting.” In addition, it challenges them to draw on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects taugh in school.

According to Tilstone, although 50 NTMA member-companies registered their MFG Day events through the association’s website, as many as 200 participated based on initial feedback. NTMA encourages member-company participants to post captioned photos of their events on social media, and one manufacturer worked with a local TV station to produce several videos for social media. “We say, ‘Share the love.’”

The Precision Metalforming Association is another trade group that has member-companies hosting MFG Day events and believes that the outreach shouldn’t stop when the sun sets. “We want MFG Day to last throughout October and throughout the year,” said PMA President Roy Hardy. “Some of the strategies PMA members employ are keeping in touch with attendees and continuing to promote activities on social media. The relationships built with community leaders, educators, students and parents plant seeds for future development and interest for years to come.”

He said many members added new outreach efforts to target new audiences. One member, Dean Phillips, for example, launched a podcast on MFG Day called “The Destiny of Manufacturing,” which can be found at www.longevity Sponsored by PMA’s Educational Foundation, the podcast features interviews with manufacturers and industry leaders about their perspectives and outlooks for manufacturing-related topics.

“Efforts like this one are especially important as our industry works to recruit a new generation of skilled workers,” Hardy said.

Even without ongoing activities, MFG Day by itself continues to be a significant recruitment mechanism. PMA reports that 89 percent of attendees in 2016 indicated that they were more aware than before of manufacturing job opportunities in their community after participating in MFG Day, and 84 percent reported a better understanding of just how interesting and rewarding a manufacturing career can be.

Related Glossary Terms

  • metalforming


    Manufacturing processes in which products are given new shapes either by casting or by some form of mechanical deformation, such as forging, stamping, bending and spinning. Some processes, such as stamping, may use dies or tools with cutting edges to cut as well as form parts.

  • robotics


    Discipline involving self-actuating and self-operating devices. Robots frequently imitate human capabilities, including the ability to manipulate physical objects while evaluating and reacting appropriately to various stimuli. See industrial robot; robot.



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.