Manufacturing jobs being created through innovation

Projects are underway in Illinois initiated by innovators and entrepreneurs, that could help President Trump reach his goals to bring back employment and the manufacturing industries in the Rust Belt.

University of Illinois Senior Andrew Knight wants to use his degree in agricultural engineering to start his own manufacturing company. By working at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fabrication Laboratory, he is moving closer to that goal. “Having access to this place is great,” he said. “I can focus on design and development.”

The Maker Movement is underway in Illinois, led by Andrew Knight and like minds, who have an appreciation for reaching out to the world and manipulating it to better suit our needs.

The Maker Movement has gone from simple Do-It-Yourself projects to people creating small-batch manufacturing hubs that can turn into job-creating businesses. This process has been significantly boosted by innovations in 3D printing combined with local communities willing to help create something that will solve a need.

Dr. Quincy K. Brown is the program director of STEM education research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She said President Trump could benefit from these innovators in an attempt to foster innovation and new manufacturing growth, similar to what President Obama did with the creation of the National Week of Making and holding a Maker Faire at the White House. “Being able to shout it far and wide that this is a priority. This is something that the president thinks is important that the country really needs. That’s powerful.”

Brown said the nation’s governors can use their platform to better communicate the benefits of a career path in the manufacturing industry. She says Gov. Rauner and others need to help dispel the old myth of a manufacturing career as toiling away in repetitive and dirty conditions. “The governor would be able to say it in terms that the parent would understand so that when their kids come to them saying they want to do this, they’ll say, ‘You know what? That’s really cool,’” she said.

Illinois is in much need of new manufacturing work within the state. While neighboring states are hiring new talent, Illinois shed 11,000 manufacturing jobs last year, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

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