There are many ways to learn more about education and careers in advanced manufacturing.
Learn engineering basics and find information about careers in engineering on the American Society for Engineering Education’s pre-college Web site, http://egfi-k12.org.
Attend MFG Day, which is a series of events held throughout the United States in October each year that shows the reality of modern manufacturing careers by featuring tours of manufacturing companies and educational institutions. MFG Day is an initiative of The Manufacturing Institute, with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association as a founding partner. Visit https://creatorswanted.org/find-events to find an event near you. If you can’t tour a facility in person, take a virtual tour of Sentry Equipment’s manufacturing plant at https://blog.sentry-equip.com/what-does-an-advanced-manufacturing-plant-look-like. Other tours are available on YouTube.
Discuss opportunities in advanced manufacturing with your science teacher and school counselor.
Consider participating in the SME’s annual Digital Manufacturing Challenge for high school and college students. SME is a respected manufacturing engineering association. During the competition, contestants use additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to solve real-world problems. The design challenge changes each year. Recent challenges asked contestants to use additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to make manufacturing processes more efficient in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic; manufacture a custom, rechargeable, universal remote; and build an inspector drone for bridges. Learn more at http://www.sme.org/aboutsme/awards/digital-manufacturing-challenge.
Advanced manufacturing engineers use their knowledge of physics, mathematics, engineering, and other fields to design, integrate, and improve manufacturing products and systems, as well as streamline and otherwise improve production processes. Their duties vary based on their educational training, engineering specialty, employer, and other factors.
Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is one example of advanced manufacturing. It involves the manufacturing of a three-dimensional solid object from a computer-generated file. The object is created by adding layer after layer of building material (e.g., rubber, plastic, metal, ceramic, glass, thermoplastic composites infused with carbon fibers and nanotubes, concrete, and even biomaterials) in precise geometric shapes until the product is finished. Many different types of advanced manufacturing engineers work in 3–D printing. For example, chemical engineers and materials engineers work with materials scientists to develop and test 3-D printing materials and printing processes. Mechanical and hardware engineers design, test, and develop 3-D printing technology, and software engineers write the code that provides instructions to computer hardware. Industrial engineers conduct research on production processes and the activities of workers to improve efficiency. Safety engineers create protocols and organize manufacturing plants (including industrial 3-D printing equipment) to ensure worker safety and the smooth operation of the facility.
Automation is another popular employment area for engineers in advanced manufacturing. Engineers study how technologies such as artificial intelligence (including machine learning), the Internet of Things, advanced sensors, data science, virtual and augmented reality, computer modeling, and advanced robotics can be integrated to improve the productivity, efficiency, and accuracy of manufacturing processes.
Some advanced manufacturing engineers work with emerging technologies. For example, chemical and materials engineers are studying ways to create products that combine inorganic and organic materials that can be used in health care applications. Groundbreaking research in this realm has already occurred in the area of nanomanufacturing, including the development of antibody-based biosensors.