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Manufacturing Finally Has its Own Day

National Manufacturing Day


National Manufacturing Day


President Obama has officially made October 7th National Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing has come a long way since it was first introduced. Yet many young people cannot or do not envision themselves working in this industry. Manufacturing careers are such an important aspect of this country. Iconic Made in the USA goods include aircraft engines, life-saving biopharmaceuticals, and cutting-edge automobiles. American manufactures take pride in knowing they produced their goods in the USA.

President Obama spoke on October 6th, 2016 about National Manufacturing Day. He said, “Let us continue working to strengthen and expand the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow and ensure that opportunity for all is something we can keep making in America for generations to come.” Since the Great Recession in 2010, U.S. manufacturing has made a comeback as more than 800,000 new jobs have been created.


Supporting Manufacturing


On National Manufacturing Day many manufacturing companies opened their doors and allowed tours of their factory floor in order to people to show what manufacturing looks like in the 21st century. The day will feature factory tours, hackathons, career exploration panels – providing hands-on demonstrations of what the 21st century looks like in a manufacturing company – and more.

“In Warren, MI, Department of Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. saw first-hand how production molds are designed and manufactured for the plastics industry at Proper Tooling, followed by a roundtable with students, employees of Macomb Community College, and employees of Proper Tooling to discuss the foundational role of STEM education in advanced manufacturing.” (Source)

Today, local organizations across the country are announcing steps to help more students and adults acquire the skills and resources to tinker, invent, and eventually manufacture their ideas at scale.


(STEM) Education Improvements


K-12 STEM Education Pipeline needs to be improved in order to provide the correct and necessary education of young people interested in this field of work. The manufacturing sector relies on students who are skilled within the different divisions of STEM. STEM stands for:

S- Science

T- Technology

E- Engineering

M- Mathematics

These important tools need to be taken seriously throughout the all levels of education. Once numbers begin to improve within these categories, the manufacturing sector will improve. When obtaining a job in this line of work, you must have a well-rounded education from the STEM topics.

Despite occasional minor downturns this year in manufacturing productivity, some believe that the US is actually experiencing significant growth in the manufacturing sector. In fact:

“For the last four years in a row, global CEOs have named the United States the best place to make and invest, and new capital investment is flowing in to a broad range of manufacturing technologies.” (Source)

AMHoF 2016 Inductees

AMHofF Image #2 Better one

The American Manufacturing Hall of Fame (AMHoF) has announced the 2016 Inductees of the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame at Housatonic Community College.  The American Manufacturing Hall of Fame celebrates the innovative history of American manufacturing,  raises funds for educational programs, and promotes awareness of Advanced Manufacturing, which is critical to the economy.


The new inductees will formally join the AMHoF in a ceremony on October 6, 2016 at the Trumbull Marriott, beginning at 5:30 pm. All are welcome to join the celebration. More information about attending and/or supporting the event can be obtained by contacting Emily Hyde at or (203) 249-9859. For more information about the AMHoF, please contact Dan Wisneski at



Bead Industries                                                                                 

Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Co.                          

Platt Brothers & Co.

C. Cowles & Co.                                                       

Chance Vought


Bead Industries, was formed in 1914 to design, develop and create innovative electrical chain pull switches for the electrical business.  Today, Bead is a leader in the telecom, automotive, connector, and lighting industries.  The company’s original product, the bead chain, is still used on vertical blinds, securing gas tank and other marine parts, window treatments, inside toilets and other plumbing fixtures, keychains for dog tags, and many other products.


Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company, began in 1812 in Waterbury, Connecticut. As the US went to war with England, founder Aaron Benedict realized that soldiers and sailors needed uniform buttons, but England would obviously no longer supply them. Benedict bought up every brass kettle, pan, and pot he could find, established a rolling mill, and began making buttons for the armed forces.  The business that Aaron began, right here in the CT valley, was the start of the brass industry in the United States.


Platt Bros. and Co. history Platt Bros. goes back over 200 years, when a grist and saw mill were established on the Naugatuck River, in Waterbury, Connecticut. Around 1847, the Platt Bros. became innovative in their design and manufacture of rolled zinc products and metal buttons. The Platt’s began producing stampings and drawn eyelet components about 1875.  Today, the Platt Bros. manufacture in such diversified markets as lighting accessories, communications, aerospace, sensing devices, control valves, primary and after-market automotive components, and electronics.


Cowles & Co. was founded in New Haven, Connecticut over 175 years ago. The company has evolved from a manufacturer of lanterns for horse drawn carriages to a world-class, precision metal stamping company, producing components for U.S. and Japanese automakers.  Today, with five operating divisions, C. Cowles has diversified into plastic injection molding, automotive accessories, boiler controls as well as burners, controls and ignitors for the heating industry.


Chance Vought founder, Chance M. Vought, had energy and vision as aircraft designer, engineer, builder, and company founder. He created a tradition of innovation and performance excellence that became the heritage of all who created and built Vought aircraft.  Their Corsair, powered, by the 2,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, flew at 404 miles per hour, faster than any U.S. fighter in production. The classic airplane would stay in continuous production until December 1952, by which time 12,571 had been built. The speed, strength, and firepower of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair enabled it to dominate Japanese opposition, downing 2,140 enemy aircraft against a loss of 189.


Last year, acting under the Housatonic Community College Foundation, the AMHoF helped raise funds that directly contributed to 18 scholarships for students at the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center at Housatonic Community College. The Center prepares students for advanced manufacturing jobs through a rigorous certification program. Last year the Center placed 100% of its certificate students in advanced manufacturing jobs. The certified students starting salaries were $30,000 and higher. As a result, the final funding of the 18 scholarships by the AMHoF resulted in more than $550,000 in income directly injected into the local economy.


The face of the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame is Founding Chairman John Ratzenberger. The actor and manufacturing advocate is best known as the colorful mailman on the TV show “Cheers,” and as the voice of multiple characters in all of the Pixar animated films. Currently, Ratzenberger is the Chief Advisor for Industrialization at Elite Aviation Products, a company that makes aviation products for the likes of Boeing and NASA. Ratzenberger was born in Bridgeport and has a home in Milford. Ratzenberger founded the AMHoF with Barbara and Carl Johnson and a group of local volunteers to call attention to the rich heritage of American manufacturing while raising money to train the next generation of the advanced manufacturing workforce.


On October 6th the AMHoF will celebrate the great companies being inducted and, at the same time, support the growth of the next generation of a much needed skilled manufacturing workforce. Each inductee will receive a custom-made award that is created by Platt Tech students using the advanced manufacturing techniques they have learned in their coursework. Each inductee will also have a custom three-minute video made that will illustrate its accomplishments that will be shown at the event. The evening is billed as THE night for manufacturing, both past and present.

5 Ways Wearables Will Change Manufacturing

Have you been wearing your smartwatch or fitness tracker that you got for Christmas as often as you thought you would?  If you work in manufacturing, you may soon be wearing them on the factory floor. Smartglasses and wearables are taking off as manufacturers realize not only that they are replacing the smart pad in the workforce’s’ hands, but they’re adding many other features that make them a necessity to gain a business advantage. While I use the term “smartglasses” universally, the wearable could be an attachment to traditional safety glasses rather than a separate unit or be attached to another body part. Here are five ways having a computer to remotely interact with both the wearer and others will change manufacturing forever.

Smart glasses.

One – Training:

Instead of having a trainer stand next to the trainee on the shop floor and go teach the worker how to run a machine or use a new tool, the trainer can be in another room, even remotely, and observe and coach by watching the camera in the smartglasses. The trainer can give real-time feedback to the trainee while also viewing any additional information the tool provides. He can also send information to the smartglasses in the form of drawings, videos, photos or any other information that he wants the worker to see. By adding a finger-pointing tool that works with the glasses, every motion of the worker can be recorded in real-time, in order so that it can be reviewed and improved later.


Two – Safety:

Using the Internet of Things (IoT) and linking the glasses with the machine being worked on, sensors in the factory, and all of the other workers’ glasses on the floor, will allow new multiple layers of safety on the shop floor. Sensors can pause a machine if they sense the worker is about to make an error that will damage a workpiece or the machine itself. Sensors can alert workers to unsafe material handling, an unintended danger from another worker, and many other daily interactions that pose a safety issue. For example, the sensor worn by a worker crossing a hallway can send a signal to the cloud that automatically slows the forklift being operated by the worker around a blind corner from the intersection. The forklift operator also sees the sensor warning in his glasses. Think of every application where a sensor can be used, rather than just through traditional human observation, and one can quickly see the endless possibilities of this technology.


Three – Compliance:

The massive amounts of data that will be collected from the various sensors and glasses can quickly be filtered in real-time and prepared in a continuously updated report for regulatory agencies. Managers can also sort through the material looking for potential patterns that need to be addressed or equipment that may need updating. Having the data and the analysis constantly available means shorter inspection time, less down time, and the ability to more fully plan for scheduled versus emergency repairs.



Data recorded from both the machine and the wearable can be analyzed in real-time and combined, then run through data analytical software. Data can be graphed by hour, shift, day, week, month, etc. to drill down and identify process improvements. Data analysis positions are currently the fastest growing segment of ALL workforces, not just manufacturing. Two and four-year colleges are currently expanding their curriculum to include certificate classes, both for undergraduate and graduate students on data analysis. Classes specific to manufacturing are sure to follow.


Five – Workforce Review:

Imagine you had a complete, record of everything your workforce did on the shop floor with data analysis weighing the worker against your other workers with similar job time and training. Now add data from the averages in your manufacturing field from around the country, and you have a snapshot that can show performance or lack thereof with a targeted improvement plan. After one year you can take the data and create performance goals around the averages, work experience and training for your workforce. All of this helps you run a smoother, more effective operation.

In just two years, it appears wearables are already making an impact in manufacturing. As they become more prevalent on shop floors and the natural innovation of any new product takes hold, it will not be long before they are as common as the safety glasses they are attached to.

Makers and the Next Manufacturing Workforce

The Institute for Supply Management issued its manufacturing report in early February, and the outlook was less than rosy. Economic output in manufacturing contracted for the fourth straight month and as a result of the strong dollar, the weak state of other countries’ economies, and the generally low cost of energy across the world, that trend may continue.

US News and World Report’s Andrew Soergel sat down with Scott Paul, the President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, to get his feedback on trends. The entire article can be found here, but one of the most interesting segments of the interview was when Soergel asked what legislation should be passed immediately to help the manufacturing sector. Paul said,

“ I think the most useful thing policymakers could do involves shoring up on the domestic side our competitiveness, which means investing in skills and training [and in] our infrastructure; continuing investments in research and development between the public and private sectors to ensure we maintain a technological lead that we’re incorporating on our factory floors.”


Programs like the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Housatonic Community College have beefed up their training in technology at the college level, and Platt Tech in Milford has had 3D printing for a few years. The real question is: how do we reach middle schoolers more frequently than through the few days dedicate to learning about manufacturing during the school year, and possibly a manufacturing camp in the summer?

One answer is the Maker movement. I sat down last week with Mark Mathias, the creator of the Westport Mini Maker Faire. The Faire is on April 30th and is in its 5th year. It has approximately doubled in attendance and size every single year. The Faire sprawls across 3.5 acres at the Westport Library and the surrounding area under both open skies and under large tents. While there are vendors, the admission is free and the mission is simple: get the kids involved and doing maker activities.

Maker activities lead directly to kids asking questions about engineering, science and manufacturing. Mathias has been pushing the “A” for “ART” in the STEAM acronym in recent years. This year there will be an art competition using 3D printers as the artists’ canvas. For more information on attending the event and to discover what activities are highlighted, click here.

Presidential Candidates Mainly Mum on Manufacturing

The presidential campaign for both parties continues to heat up due to the surprising staying power of multiple candidates as we head into the South Carolina primary.

Bernie Sanders continues to haunt Hillary Clinton and the candidates favored by the Republican Party have failed to pull away from the largely independent-speaking Donald Trump.

At almost 17% of the state’s GDP, manufacturing is the largest sector of the economy in South Carolina, which would imply it would be a talking point on the campaign trail. However, other than Trump’s constant threat to curtail Chinese imports, the statements from the candidates have been vague at best. South Carolina presents several attractive offerings for manufacturers especially for auto manufacturing companies.

Capitol Building U.S. Congress

Among the perks that SC offers to manufacturing and all industries is: no state property tax, no local income tax, no inventory tax, no sales tax on manufacturing machinery, industrial power or materials for finished products, no wholesale tax, no unitary tax on worldwide profits, and favorable corporate income tax structure.

Many of these have been brought up by Connecticut manufacturers as possible incentives to be brought to the state to grow industry.

Ed Caruthers, a respected blogger who often writes on manufacturing, commented on the candidates’ attention to manufacturing in general:

“The best solution is to improve education so that Americans are worth higher wages than workers in other countries.  But that won’t be fast; it will cost money; and it will undermine politicians who appeal to ignorance and irrationality.”

Connecticut has made education for the next generation of the manufacturing workforce a priority, but there is a general agreement that more must be done to keep and attract manufacturers in the state.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, a state that should be perfect for discussing how to position the country’s manufacturing future, the candidates remain largely quiet on the eve of the primary.

4D Printing and Beyond

A revolution in robotics is coming. It’s called 4D printing, a step beyond 3D printing, and it’s already being used in manufacturing, but its uses extend into various subfields of robotics.

The technology uses color-sensitive and heat-sensitive gel and can expose 3D printed materials to light and heat in order to shape the materials into something new. Time is the fourth element.

Possible 4-D Printing Image

This is an amazing breakthrough because it could make robots more malleable so that they could bend more easily. Imagine a robot that has hands and fingers that bend.  Theoretically someone could develop this type of robot to work in different job fields that involve repetitive or monotonous tasks. Some fields in which robots could work include jobs that involve gripping something or using subtle hand motions, such as: directing vehicle traffic or airplane traffic, playing more types of sports – basketball, tennis, bowling, and others – and performing more difficult tasks in the factory. Engineers could also develop robots that can practice shaking hands with and practicing other grips with someone who is recovering from a hand injury or hand weakness.


Imagine playing a game with a robot on those days that you didn’t have anyone else with which to play. In a game like tennis, in which it is almost vital to play with someone else to improve, you could improve your skills much faster by playing with a robot than you could by simply practicing your serve or by not playing or practicing whatsoever. If it was programmed to speak, it could even complement every good shot you made.


4D printing is a technology that will change almost every aspect of manufacturing and robotics. This technology will quickly and dramatically transform the way our world appears and functions.


Source cited:


Crouse, Megan. “‘4D Printing’ Could Make Robots Bendier.” N.p., 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 Jan. 2016. <>.

Snackable Video

Manufacturers want to let the outside world know about their industry, their unique value proposition, and the quality of their products. Bridgeport Fittings came to IdeaEngineUSA looking for a solution. The answer…short videos that busy partners and customers can watch that’ll make the point. Called “snackable content” in the marketing world, the Youtube videos now help promote BF’s business. Using a mix of historical footage with new footage taken from their factory floor and interviews, four videos were created.

Bridgeport Fittings Factory

Each video concentrated on a pillar of what Bridgeport Fittings believes in; American Manufacturing, Buying Local, Quality Material, and the difference in working with Bridgeport Fittings. These four videos are now used to directly target potential customers. The videos are hosted on the Bridgeport Fittings YouTube channel and are also cross-promoted across their various social media channels to help drive traffic and business to their website.

Their channel can be found here.

Marketing to Manufacturing: The Eco-Technology Park

Sometimes it seems as if it’s almost impossible to take a complicated idea and break it down into an understandable idea for an audience unfamiliar with the subject. IdeaEngineUSA found itself in that predicament last year when they were hired by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council to put together a comprehensive, yet easily understandable presentation on the new Eco-Technology Park.

The BRBC had scheduled a full day of tours and presentations with all the relevant U.S. and Connecticut state regulatory agencies to show the concept of the Park. The overall description, plan and breakdown of the companies involved at the Park was ours to convey.

Eco-Technology Park

Over the course of a few weeks, we got a crash course in eco-technology and the manufacturing process of multiple eco-sciences. We learned everything we could and started mapping out a plan. Working with Jeff Leichtman of the BRBC, we decided we would introduce the piece by creating a short video of the history of Bridgeport manufacturing up until now. We covered more than two centuries of Bridgeport history in just over two minutes of video!

We then created a PowerPoint presentation that described the overall plan, the suggested location for each business and showed some of the eco-science processes. At each stage of the presentation the speaker could hyperlink to an individual company to demonstrate how that company fit into the plan. We also highlighted the major regulatory issues that would need to be addressed by the agencies in order to make the Park a model for future parks in the state and across the country.

This year eco-technology manufacturers continue to move into the park, the planned thermal loop that will heat and cool the downtown public buildings has begun to be built and problematic regulations are being actively reviewed by the agencies. Little by little, the next generation of manufacturing continues to come to Bridgeport and thrive.

Remembering Joseph Engleberger

Celebrate the Life and Accomplishments of One of Connecticut’s
Greatest Innovators in Advanced Manufacturing
By Dan Wisneski

Although it may seem odd to celebrate the work of a scientist whose greatest obsession in life was to take jobs away from human beings, had it not been for the work of Joseph Engleberger between the 1950s and the 1980s, advanced manufacturing would not be standing on the cutting edge of its current, massive expansion.

Unimate Photo #3

Engleberger, credited as the “father” of the industrial robotics sciences, formed a company in 1956 called Unimation with George Devol. Together, they built a rudimentary robot arm and held the first robotic patent. What they produced revolutionized the factory and manufacturing industry: a mechanical tool that freed workers on the manufacturing floor from simple and repetitive tasks.  This invention led to the creation of more advanced concepts, such as technology that allows robots and humans to work together.

Engleberger began his career as a young engineer at Manning, Maxwell and Moore, a company that was headquartered in Bridgeport for many years, but that recently moved to Stratford because the business was growing at an exponential pace. At the time, MMM was the industry leader in manufacturing products related to oil, natural gas, and petroleum. Engleberger, however, preferred not to work in MMM’s primary industries, and instead chose to work in a field he is passionate about: the aircraft division. Devol met Engleberger based on the strength of the concept, and Engleberger convinced MMM to allow Devol to begin working on the design and construction of a prototype of the robotic arm, which Engleberger eventually licensed as a patent.

While in the United States, the robots were initially met with much derision, their volume grew, and workers began to fear that they might lose their jobs. Engleberger’s plan, however, was not to produce something that would take away jobs, rather something that would elevate the workers to more skilled, higher paying jobs.

Today robots and humans work “side-by-side” on myriad of manufacturing floors and the technology driving them continues to change and adapt with the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, microchip technology, which continues to evolve, and much, much more. All the robots ever made share something in common: they began with the invention by Joseph Engleberger, father of robotics.

In Part II of the three part series we will look at the future of robotics in manufacturing, including a robot that is trained by in-house staff, not programmed, which will usher in the new era of collaborative robotic manufacturing. For more on Unimate, see Becca Rosen’s Unimate: The Story of George Devol and the First Robotic Arm.” Sources for this article include, the New York Times and Wikipedia.

Manufacturing Mash-up

Manufacturing Mash-up

Will President Barack Obama’s promise from a little over a week ago to fund community college educations at 100% help cut the national skills gap in manufacturing? That is the question, or perhaps a better word would be “speculation” that spread through the manufacturing community last week as details of the “proposal” became known, dissected and analyzed.

It’s important to note that however a newsmaker it quickly became, currently this proposal is little more than a talking point in the president’s script at last week’s event. Critics immediately pointed to the issues the administration is facing in getting any legislation passed. Those issues include the Republican control of both houses of Congress, the appropriate financing to build manufacturing centers in many of the state community colleges where no programs currently exist, how to decide on a model to create the centers and standardizing the curriculum.

Enrollment in manufacturing-based education programs is up considerably across the country and wages are starting to creep up in some areas. Add this to the increasing demand for skilled labor and the continued drop in the need for unskilled labor and we have an economic growth gumbo stewing right in front of us.

Bridget Bergin, Associate Editor of took up the discussion the day the President made the announcement. Her comprehensive and nuanced article can be found here: Let the debate begin!