How do you get more young people interested in careers in manufacturing? You challenge them. And you draft a terrific group of partners to help you challenge them!

At the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2016, schools will be engaged in some of the most interesting, interactive and engaging challenges that our industry can put in front of them. That will allow them to take advantage of an in-depth learning experience with our industry.

I’ve written about all of the challenges that will be presented at the Student Summit in this column in previous issues. You can find more detail at

Art students who haven’t yet discovered the possibilities for a career in industrial design will be able to participate in the Design It! Challenge using Autodesk Fusion 360 software. 

All students can be set down an education and career pathway by having the opportunity to use a 3D printer for the first time in the Make It! Challenge with Rippl3D.

Students who had never considered that they might be adept at the skills required to become a talented machinist will benefit from the Sandvik Tool It! and the Machine It! Challenges where they’ll use CNC machines.

Future automation and robotics engineers and technicians will understand how to engage a robot arm and grippers to speed up loading and unloading parts to move them along the production process.

To encourage more young people to pursue an education in mechatronics for a career as a field service technician, quite possibly the job function of greatest need among AMT member companies, there will be a Build It! Challenge at the summit. Teams of experienced mechatronics students will learn how to build a WardJet CNC waterjet cutting machine.

Welders are always in demand and in the Weld It! Challenge, students will step inside the American Welding Society display and experience Lincoln Electric’s virtual welding challenge.

Young people today are thinking green, and they’ll learn about the Siemens Greenpower Electric Car Challenge that will inspire them to excel in STEM studies through unique hands-on projects to design, build and race electric cars.   

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), one of our country’s newest national manufacturing institutes, has already announced a “Robotic Blacksmithing” competition and executives from LIFT will be on hand at the student summit to challenge more schools to participate in technologies that use formative manufacturing to manipulate the shape of metals.

The Science & Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE) Chicago seeks to nurture big idea generation in Illinois and local Chicago communities. They’ve launched the Innovation Alive Challenge to give local schools and students an opportunity to allow their creativity to come to life.

As technology advances at such a rapid pace for today’s young people, it’s important that we continue to challenge them and present them with the tools that will set them on a rewarding education and career pathway.

For more information about Smartforce Development and the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2016, contact Greg Jones at 703-827-5203 or For more frequent updates, follow @GregoryAJones on Twitter.