April 26, 2011

What Next?: High-Tech Manufacturing

If you want to work in the factory of the future, you'll need to be prepared.

Shelby: Hi, guys! I am at Astro Manufacturing in East Lake, Ohio, and companies like Astro have a problem. As manufacturing becomes more and more high tech they need fewer people to operate machinery and more people to operate computers because these days, more and more computers are running the machines.

But Astro and companies like it are finding it difficult to find factory workers who have the technical know-how they need.

We managed to find a teen who has just the skills Astro wants and he would like to work in manufacturing after he graduates from school.

Hi, Chris. I am Shelby from Channel One. Nice to meet you. I understand you want to work at a company like Astro. Why are you interested in manufacturing?

Chris: I like working with computers and I’m a really hands-on person.

Shelby: Cool! Well, we are going to meet a guy who works with a computer that operates machinery and go behind the scenes to show you what the job is like.

Chris: Cool.

Shelby: Are you ready? Let’s go.

Chris: Thank you.

Shelby: Now we are off to meet our guide for the day.

Hi, Brady. I am Shelby from Channel One, and this is Chris. We are here to learn more about how you use computers to operate machines. So, can you fill us in?

Brady: Sure! You guys are both going to need a pair of these, and we can go and check them out right now.

Shelby: First Brady gave us a quick tour of Astro. It makes everything from parts for military equipment, like this torpedo, to machines that train doctors to do surgery. They look like a video game.

I’m removing the gall bladder!

Ewww! That is so gross.

I think it’s pretty sweet!

Then it was time to learn how Brady uses computers to make airplane wheels and other products for Astro’s customers.

So, Brady, can you tell us what you do?

Brady: What we do is a customer requires a part to be made, so what they’ll do is they will design a part and they’ll send us a three dimensional model, like this one. And it’s my job to take something off the shelf similar to this yellow part. This is a large piece of material and I would need to use the software to carve away all the yellow — or should I say material — to create the customer’s part.

Shelby: And so the final part is a wheel?

Brady: Yes.

Shelby: Does it ever feel tedious doing the 3D drawings every day?

Brady: Not at all to me. I think I learn something new every day.

Shelby: Brady has a special tool for his job. What is this?

Brady: This is a 3D mouse.

Shelby: What does it do?

Brady: It helps you manipulate the part on the screen. Basically, if wanted to grab the part with your hand and look at it you, obviously, can’t grab the part but what you do is you grab the mouse and pull it towards you just as in real time you would if it was in your hand.

Shelby: So, Brady just showed us how he uses a computer to tell a machine how to create a wheel. So that computer program will go on a memory chip like this. And it will go into the machine, and that computer program Brady created will tell the machine how to create the actual wheel.

Astro let Chris put the wheel into the machine. Now it is time to carve out the wheel.

Wow! There it is. The final product. An airplane wheel. That is pretty awesome, huh?

So, we just watched that whole process. That was awesome. Do you have any questions for Brady?

Chris: Yeah. What kind of education do you need to learn that computer software?

Brady: I mean, the computer software side of it, you aren’t required to go to college. I went to college for four years but it’s really just years of experience learning how to navigate the software. That’s what you really need.

Shelby: So, what is next for Chris?

People who want to work in computer aided manufacturing like Brady should study math in high school, especially trigonometry and geometry. You don’t need a college degree but you will need some computer training.

Computer aided manufacturing pays between forty and seventy thousand dollars a year.

So, does Chris want the job?

So, we just shadowed Brady for the day. What did you think?

Chris: I think I’d really like to work here.

Shelby: You are interested in working here? And what about the job surprised you? What did you think was really cool?

Chris: Didn’t think it was going to be intricate. I thought it was just holes and drills but it was actually really intricate.

Shelby: I have an application here. I am wondering if you would like to fill it out because you are graduating in the spring.

Chris: Yes.

Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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