October is Manufacturing Month
October is Manufacturing Month, and Southeast Community College offers a number of programs whose graduates fill jobs available in that sector. One of those programs is Manufacturing Engineering Technology on the Milford Campus.
Lynnette Frey, instructor in the program, said it’s important to highlight manufacturing for several reasons.
“Obviously, increased awareness is important because many people do not get the opportunity to explore manufacturing facilities to see how everyday things are made,” Frey said. “Some people have the perception that manufacturing is antiquated or dirty. However, modern manufacturing involves robotics, data analytics, programming, and many other technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing.”
Frey teaches a variety of classes in engineering drawing and design, including AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks, Materials, Manufacturing Processes, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, Lean Facilities Management, Statics and Strength of Materials, and Robotics. Students learn proper engineering documentation, as well as materials and processes, before moving into problem-solving exercises and analytical processing to identify efficient solutions during a multitude of manufacturing scenarios.
Frey said students in the program are tasked with identifying lean principles and opportunities for increased efficiency in manufacturing processes.
“They need to understand both the engineering design and the manufacturing processes and serve as a liaison between design and manufacturing,” she said.
Manufacturing plays an important role in local, national and global economies and leads to increased innovation and growth. According to the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, manufacturing is the second-largest sector in the state, delivering 11%, or $13 billion, of Nebraska Gross Domestic Product annually.
“It is an exciting and challenging field, but there is an increasing shortage of skilled talent, and part of the goal for Manufacturing Month is to recruit skilled talent into this field,” Frey said.
SCC Manufacturing Engineering graduates hold jobs at numerous companies, including TMCO, Valmont Industries, Midlands Packaging, Norfolk Iron and Metal, Chief Industries, Lincoln Industries, Kiewit, Molex, Exmark, Duncan Aviation, Tesla, and BD (Becton, Dickinson) Medical. The average starting salary of 2020 program graduates was nearly $42,000.
As with many industries, manufacturing is changing rapidly, which forces Frey and fellow instructors to adapt to those changes.
“Manufacturing is truly a fast-paced, high-tech industry, and we must stay current, whether that is with software, equipment, machine learning, the internet of things, smart sensors, or any of the components of Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution),” Frey said.
On Oct. 5, Frey and three of her students participated in a podcast of SolidWorks Manufacturing Live conducted by SCC graduate Mike Buchli, partner sales manager, manufacturing worldwide for Dassault Systèmes.
“One of the things we wanted to celebrate in our recent podcast is the diversity of students in our program and how that diversity adds to the quality of our problem-solving process in teams,” Frey said. “We have students from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, ages, abilities, and experiences. They all have individual strengths and ideas, which is part of why brainstorming sessions with them are so interesting. We practice being open minded and allow ideas to evolve. Their diverse backgrounds add to the richness of our class discussions and aid in student engagement, which is encouraged and celebrated.”
Frey’s expertise in multiple CAD software led to her selection to work on high-priority projects that had a major impact on society and the local community.
“Being on a team of engineers working for the greater good felt rewarding, and after some time in industry, I was asked by a previous instructor to apply for a teaching position at SCC,” Frey said. “That is when I fell in love with teaching, a profession that pushed me to stay on the cutting edge while also granting an emotional paycheck by helping others. I spent almost 10 years teaching before family life took me to North Carolina and Utah. After moving back to Nebraska, I chose to go back into teaching because I enjoy working with students and the energy they bring to the classroom.”
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