Locally, regionally and nationally, manufacturing is making a comeback. Here in Massachusetts, manufacturing accounts for approximately 250,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000. Yet, there is a lack of engineering and machining talent entering the workforce. This skills-shortage, according to Michael Tamasi, President & CEO of AccuRounds, is affecting manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth.
“Not only are engineers and CNC machinists needed for manufacturers to grow their operation, they are also needed to replace an aging workforce,” says Tamasi. “Higher education focused on preparing professionals for advanced manufacturing careers is vital to the future of our economy. Business relies on educational institutions to help fill this critical pipeline need.”
"Higher education focused on preparing professionals for advanced manufacturing careers is vital to the future of our economy."
Manufacturing employs 50 percent more workers than all the banks and insurance companies in the state; double the number of workers in wholesale trade; nearly three times as many as in information services; and nearly six times as many as in all of the arts, entertainment, and recreation firms in the Commonwealth. Yet, according to a survey of over 700 manufacturers in the state, advances in manufacturing are being hampered by a lack of skilled craftsmen. (Twenty-five-percent stated it was difficult to recruit research and development technicians.)
To meet this demand, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) launched a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), with classes beginning in September.
“Manufacturing has become a knowledge industry in the region as manufacturers continue to adopt continuous improvement methods to boost innovation, productivity, and competitiveness,” said Anthony Benoit, BFIT President. “As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve and expand, so will job opportunities for graduates. These high-skill jobs are critical to the state’s economy and essential to improving the value added by the state’s manufacturers.”
Baccalaureate graduates in this field are often referred to as mechanical engineering technologists. These professionals create sketches, rough layouts, and CAD drawings, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report their findings to mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineering technologists help with manufacturing processes on the shop floor, or with development phases in research and development labs before manufacturing takes place.
"As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve and expand, so will job opportunities for graduates. These high-skills jobs are critical."
BFIT’s current two-year degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology provides students with the technical fundamentals to support manufacturing. The bachelor’s program offers a more detailed and specialized knowledge in the discipline as well as skills in communication, information literacy, and problem solving. Upper-class students also have greater opportunity to explore the link between management, quality systems, and technical production.
The coursework in the upper level courses enables students to move from being a technician to a technologist. As a technologist, graduates will work more closely with engineers and may also serve in a management role overseeing technicians. Technologists are able to more effectively demonstrate the synergies between quality systems, advanced manufacturing, lean manufacturing, and design and management.
Industries small and large in the United States are “reshoring” the manufacturing of a wide range of products—from automobiles and tractors to appliances—from countries like China. Even better news for those in the field is that reshoring isn’t the only reason that the number of industry jobs is projected to grow. Right now, the field has an aging workforce. The average age of machinist in Massachusetts is 55. This means there will be a rash of retirements in the near future, opening up positions for job-seekers at many levels.
The job market is competitive for those who don't have the right skill-set, which includes the basics: tooling, metal cutting, milling and turning.
Still, the job market is competitive for those who don’t have the right skill-set, which includes the basics: tooling, metal cutting, milling and turning. “Traditional methods of learning are—and will always be—greatly important,” says Roy Garber, instructor at BFIT. “So we make sure our students fully understand how to make something properly and how to make things manually. If someone has training and knows what we call ‘employability skills,’ they have a big advantage over someone with just experience.”