Inventors and manufacturers are entities that truly go hand-in-hand, meaning you really can’t have one without the other, at least not in any substantive manner. Similar to "Love and Marriage", about which the song (written in 1955) says "you can’t have one without the other." (Not too sure this is a great analogy. I’ve witnessed many relationships in which the two don’t go together at all.)
You could argue that an inventor can certainly invent without having his or her invention manufactured. But then what's the point? If the invention isn't produced and used, does it really matter?
Two things that crossed my desk yesterday reinforced the connection between inventors and manufacturers. I’d like to share them and see what you think. Read on. There just might be something in it for you.
Early in the day, I received a press release announcing a landmark partnership between two organizations intended to inspire tomorrow's inventors, engineers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs, and address a dire need to fill skilled labor positions in the U.S.
Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs (NBT), The Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl. (FMA), and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), have joined forces to develop a national program that builds on NBT's successful summer manufacturing camp blueprint.
Camp participants use technology to create a product from start to finish providing them practical manufacturing experience in 3-D design, computer numerical control (CNC) programming, welding, machining, and more, while learning product creation, problem solving, entrepreneurship and team building. Visits to area manufacturers provide an up-close look at products being made as well as career advice and inspiration from the entrepreneurs who run the companies.
"The purpose of the manufacturing camps is to provide a positive, hands-on experience so young people will consider manufacturing as a career option," said Gerald Shankel, president & CEO of the FMA. “Both NACCE and NBT are making an investment in tomorrow's work force because there is an ever-increasing demand for highly-skilled professionals who can design, program, and operate technology."
"These camps expose youth to vocational and technical trades that they would rarely encounter in public education systems," said actor and producer John Ratzenberger, an NBT founder who leads the group's efforts to promote manufacturing as a viable career choice. "Many young people today have no role models when it comes to fixing things themselves or taking pride in building something useful, and they dismiss the idea of considering a career in one of the manual arts such as manufacturing, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, or welding. These are some of the career areas that offer the greatest opportunity for people who want to become entrepreneurs. With more than 70 percent of all the jobs created in the United States coming from small businesses — many of them started and run by inspired entrepreneurs — this is a segment of our economy that deserves all the support and inspiration we can provide."
Ah, inspiration — the catalyst for a great idea that can become an invention, which leads me to the second item that crossed my desk. FMA's Education Director, Jim Warren, forwarded me an e-mail with the subject line "Seeking Manufacturer/Fabricator."
Mike Wielgart, a Chicago-area firefighter, has invented a device that allows firefighters to get water or other fire suppressants into high-rise floors from the floor below. Currently, fire departments have to wait until they can enter the floor itself. Last December, the Chicago fire department had to wait 3.5 hours to enter a floor in a south loop Chicago fire that killed at least one person. Wielgart's device, the Hero Pipe, could have delivered water into the floor in 30 minutes.
Wielgart feels there is a market for this device nationally and internationally and is looking for an area company to fabricate it. According to the gentleman who sent Warren the e-mail, the New York City Fire Department has already expressed interest, and there is a desire to get a sample ready for a firefighter trade show this year.
Wielgart was inspired by events he witnessed in his job and invented a new product. Now he's looking for a manufacturer/fabricator to bring that product to market. If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in making this device, e-mail Jim Warren, email@example.com. (Tell him Vicki sent you.) He can put you in touch with the appropriate people.
Long live the inventor-manufacturer relationship!
If you’d like to help train the next generations of inventors and manufacturers, consider contributing to NBT. Your contribution could help preserve manufacturing in the U.S., and it’s tax deductible.
Follow fabcomlady on Twitter.
Become a fan of The FABRICATOR® on Facebook.