Yesterday and today as I walked through the 20 exhibit halls that make up this year's interpack, I was at once both encouraged and discouraged to see families on an outing to show their kids the great manufacturing technology that is on display. Encouraged because this is the type of exposure that our children need to help excite them about STEMM careers. Discouraged because I realize that back in the United States, these kinds of outings are not taking place. Most of our factories are closed to the tours that those of us of retirement age remember taking with our parents while on vacation. Our trade shows are off limits to those under 16 years of age. We need to change this.
Kids will be excited to see Google Glasses, Ipads, robots and physical (not virtual) reality games on display in a show featuring manufacturing. They will gain insite to the importance of engineering and technology when they see how their food supply, their sodas, their Halloween candy, their toys, their phones - nearly all of the objects in their life - are produced and packaged. As we endeavor to solve the manufacturing workforce crisis and the shortange of engineers in America, finding ways to expose our children seems like such an obvious and simple solution!
I stopped and spoke with a couple of these families. The photo shows Carsten and Britta van Schrick with 10-year-old son Niklas looking over some sophisticated packaging machinery from KHS. Niklas darted from one part of the machine to another, peering through the plexiglass to see how the different parts worked. He was clearly excited about what he saw. In a related podcast, the mother of another family explains to me why she thinks it is important for her two sons to attend interpack. And, for more solutions for solving the manufacturing workforce crisis in America, download the latest Playbook from Packaging World here.