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The U.S. leads in talent, tech, creativity, and quite possibly in complacency

Article-The U.S. leads in talent, tech, creativity, and quite possibly in complacency

Setup If you don’t know you’re in a fight, you’re losing.

Setup If you don’t know you’re in a fight, you’re losing.

In June I had a tremendously positive experience of a phase of our molding and moldmaking business that gets far too little attention. Education. I wish every IMM reader was with me at the Injection Molding Conference at the Erie Campus of Penn State University. It was outstanding.

The three-day program had sessions by talented, experienced leaders on nearly every molding technology we cover in IMM, and we try to get them all. There were also excellent business sessions. Then there’s the school itself. What a facility! The photo below is the molding laboratory for the Plastics Engineering program. Besides a dozen or so good injection machines, there are robotics, closed-loop control systems, sensor-equipped molds, and—listen, I’ve seen good production shops less well-equipped.

The educational programs are outstanding, sending out graduates with the theoretical and practical skills they need to mold plastics well—from day one. Penn State/Erie even couples engineering and business into a combined degree program. Yes, imagine the scene: an engineer convincing a CEO or investor how much money can be made before explaining the technology. Nerd engineer jokes could go extinct. We’ll tell you more about Penn State’s program soon, as well as those of other schools.

I mentioned the conference was great ... except that the organizers invited a magazine editor to talk about how American molders and moldmakers are adapting to the continuing global migration of manufacturing. That editor was me. Anyone who was there can tell you that public speaking is not my thing. But I think I made up for it by being totally wound up about the subject.

Branching off the topic, I talked, maybe ranted, about how it’s not just China that’s rising, or India, or any of the growth stories you hear. It’s most of the world. In 2006 and 2007, over 120 countries grew their economies by greater than 4%. That kind of growth is not unprecedented, but when it happened previously it was confined to the West—North America and Western Europe.

Now the growth is global, and it’s rearranging the so-called world order so radically and quickly that the pundits can barely track it, let alone predict what will happen next.

My point when I spoke—and my point right now—is this: I feel and I fear that most Americans are unaware or don’t want to see that their twentieth century position as number one is shrinking. America won’t go under. It’s far too big and powerful. But the rest are rising, and attention must be paid—now.

Rob Neilley, Editor Injection Molding Magazine
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