There are many ways to learn more about education and careers in advanced manufacturing. Discuss opportunities in advanced manufacturing with your science teacher and school counselor. Talk to advanced manufacturing professionals about their careers. Ask the following questions, and try to come up with your own, too.
Participate in student competitions to build your skills and meet people with shared interests. Many competitions are provided by SkillsUSA, a national membership organization for middle school, high school, and college students who are interested in pursuing careers in technical, trade, and skilled service occupations. It offers the following STEM-related competitions: Additive Manufacturing; Automated Manufacturing Technology; CNC Milling Specialist; CNC Technician; CNC Turning Specialist; Electronics Technology; Engineering Technology/Design; Mechatronics; and Robotics and Automation Technology. Visit http://www.skillsusa.org to learn more.
Join the Technology Student Association, which provides students with a chance to explore career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, enter academic competitions, and participate in summer exploration programs. Visit http://www.tsaweb.org for more information.
Duties of advanced manufacturing technicians vary based on their educational training, job title, employer, and other factors. General advanced manufacturing technicians set up, calibrate, operate, and maintain equipment and work with engineers, scientists, and managers to improve quality and process efficiency. Under the supervision of engineers and scientists, research and development technicians conduct tests and experiments to improve products or manufacturing processes.
Automation technicians conduct research to create new or improve existing advanced robotic systems. Some work with scientists and engineers to develop collaborative robots, which are designed to work safely and efficiently alongside humans, rather than in separate work spaces.
Mechatronics engineers, who are also known as electromechanical technicians, use the principles of computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering, along with systems integration and technical project management skills, to research, design, develop, test, and troubleshoot computer-controlled electromechanical systems.
Some technicians conduct research on advanced manufacturing techniques such as additive manufacturing, computer numerical control machining, and nanotechnology, as well as tools such as artificial intelligence, digital design and prototyping, Big Data, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, and the Internet of Things in order to help their employers improve efficiency and increase productivity. For example, technicians and engineers have developed augmented reality technology—when used with specialized glasses—that allows workers to view holographic images of machine designs, measurements, and other information. This technology has reduced manufacturing down time and improved efficiency. Other technicians have worked on projects that use additive manufacturing to create high-quality, precision parts quickly—saving time and material waste.