Area students compete in annual Precision Machining Competition
More than 50 students from nine northern Illinois high schools competed May 13 in the Technology & Manufacturing Association's 29th annual Precision Machining Competition.
The annual contest encourages students to pursue high-skill, high-paying, high-demand careers in advanced manufacturing. Even with the COVID-19 restrictions that this year's participating schools had to fight through, many students remained focused on competing to help advance their careers in the manufacturing and technology fields to further equip them with the skills to produce goods for people around the country and world.
Emblematic of the manufacturing sector's perseverance during the pandemic, these hardworking students created more than 65 projects showcasing their skills in CAD design, sine bar, grinding vice, CNC turning, CNC milling, CNC CAM, CNC programming, and other abilities and techniques essential to modern machining.
Participating high schools included Cary-Grove, Hampshire, Jefferson (Rockford), Lake Park, McHenry East, McHenry West, first-time competitor Ridgewood, Streamwood, and Wheeling.
Students heard remarks from Leigh Coglianese, TMA Manager of Training & Education; April Senase, West CTE Manufacturing teacher; and Tom Cicardo, tooling apprentice, Matrix Tool.
The students also had the opportunity to connect with local manufacturers and learn more about possible careers.
"This year's Precision Machining Competition is a testament to the indomitable spirit of these young people," said TMA President Steve Rauschenberger.
"In a year marked by uncertainty and adversity, these students persevered, overcoming numerous obstacles to create the impressive projects we saw here today. It's rewarding for our association to know these students will have the opportunity to obtain high-paying and high in-demand jobs in manufacturing."
The Precision Machining Competition is not only one of TMA's most effective initiatives for career recruitment into precision metalworking, but one of its most important as well. Experts estimate the next decade will see the creation of about 3.5 million new manufacturing jobs. Unfortunately, a precision metalworking "skills gap" means that well over half of those jobs -- as many as two million -- could go unfilled.
Initiatives like the Precision Machining Competition highlight the demand for technology and precision manufacturing skills in today's workforce. The competition also celebrates the inventive students who will be the ones to help us close that skills gap in the years to come.
"These students are the workforce of the future," Coglianese said. "They'll have the opportunity to fill one of the thousands of open jobs nationwide in high-tech, high-wage manufacturing roles, setting themselves up for lifelong career success in an exciting, dynamic field."