Last issue, when I went over the results from our annual State of the Gear Industry survey, I was being too nice. Sure, there's still a lot of optimism about the business climate. Gear manufacturers are mostly busy. For
most, 2018 looks like it will be at least a little better than 2017. But there are dark clouds ahead, and they've been building for some time.
As you might imagine, I talk to many gear industry people through the course of my day-to-day activities. And there is one question that I hear over and over again. "Joe, we need an experienced gear process engineer. Do you know anyone who's available?"
It's probably no surprise to anyone that the majority of the gear industry had a pretty good
year in 2017, and that most gear manufacturers are expecting a pretty good 2018 as well. After
all, most major economic indicators - including the ones that focus on the manufacturing sector - have been positive for some time.
It wasn’t so very long ago that a high school-educated, able-bodied person with a will to work typically had little trouble finding a decent job in manufacturing. Whether at an area job
shop, an OEM plant or auto plant—work was to be had. Work that paid well
enough to marry, buy a home, feed, raise
and educate a family—with even enough
left over for a modest retirement pension.
Faithful Addendum readers are accustomed to finding upbeat, whimsical and oddball stories about gears in this
space. What follows is not about gears, exactly. Rather, it is, as opposed to the usual bleak news about America losing its manufacturing mojo—a look at a positive, hopeful development in that regard.
For years, politicians, educators and business leaders have generated various ideas to revitalize U.S. manufacturing and engineering. These include manufacturing initiatives, internal training programs and an emphasis on science, technology,
engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the classroom. The declining expertise in these fields, however, continues to
be a growing problem in every facet of manufacturing and engineering.