Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A B.S. in Manufacturing?

Name an industry that has lost almost 5 million jobs since the turn of the century. Now name an industry that is projected to lose another 500,000 jobs by 2022.

That industry is manufacturing, yet Georgia Southern University has begun accepting students to its new B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering.

When classes begin in August, the university will begin the first undergraduate Manufacturing Engineering Degree Program in the state of Georgia and Southeast United States with the first graduates expected in May 2019.

Maybe its best chance for success is that it is counter-intuitive?

Selecting an undergraduate major is a difficult choice. Among the problems with selecting a career field for undergraduates are:

1.   With so much information on the Internet these days, there is a certain herd mentality with most students crowding into the current “hot” fields.

2.    Students, with the encouragement of their parents, choose what is popular even if they are not suited for that career.

3.    Occupational projections are imprecise at best, even if their predictions are treated as facts rather than as informed guesses.

Even the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for the biennial Occupational Outlook Handbook, says: The accuracy of projections for individual occupations is subject to error because of the many unknown factors that may affect the economy over the projection period. Furthermore, while occupational employment projections and related job outlook information can provide valuable inputs to the career decision-making process, they should not be the sole basis for a choice of career.

So what advantages do students face in this field?

Manufacturing, especially in the U.S., is translating into a high-tech field, where automation and high value production are the means to increased profitability. That probably means fewer jobs overall, but more opportunities for individuals with technical skills.

Mass customization of items is the trend, and mass customization means quick turnaround times, which requires manufacturers to be located closer to their customers. Manufacturing a high value, low quantity item is inconsistent with slow delivery from remote locations.

The U.S., like few nations on earth, constitutes a major market. Exports are good, but the U.S. is a large enough market that internal demand drives most of its GDP. Fluctuations in currency affects production but not to the extent that it does in smaller markets. To the extent that automated factories can offset lower labor costs elsewhere in the world, the manufacturing sector can be competitive.

The Southeast needs to be a diverse economy, and strong agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries can combine to provide economic stability and growth.

It is unlikely that manufacturing can again become the job creator that it was in our past, or that we currently see in health care, but there is still a place for advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

The students at Georgia Southern University may just find themselves graduating in time to take advantage of these trends.