Manufacturing Day 2012 will highlight the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy and draw attention to the rewarding, high-skill jobs available in manufacturing fields. Through open houses, public tours, career workshops, and other events held at participating facilities on October 5, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and other sponsors hope to introduce as many people as possible to the important role played by manufacturing both in local communities and the nation. Roger Kilmer, director of MEP, recently talked with IMPO to discuss the importance of the inaugural Manufacturing Day, and his hopes for manufacturing in the future.
IMPO: How did Manufacturing Day begin?
Kilmer: Ed Youdell, President and CEO, of the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA) came up with the idea for Manufacturing Day. MEP and FMA reps started talking earlier this spring about the notion of having a nationwide celebration and awareness campaign. FMA had benchmarked with the folks who put on Steel Day and came up with the model for creating a virtual toolkit for manufacturers to use to have open houses across the U.S., and set-up a website for them to post events for the public to register. Manufacturing Day was grounded in the need to get as many manufacturing-related associations and groups on board to help spread the word, encourage manufacturers to open their doors, and get the public inside for tours.
Manufacturing Day was created because of the all too apparent challenges facing our great industry: despite data surrounding the many significant contributions manufacturing makes to our economic and innovation success as a country, there are still 600,000 unfilled jobs. Many people in this country don't understand what modern day manufacturing looks like, the good-paying jobs that are out there, and the skills needed to fill them. This "Manufacturing In America" infographic really tells the story (click  to view larger). 
IMPO: What is NIST MEP’s role in Manufacturing Day?
Kilmer: NIST MEP has been a co-producer of Manufacturing Day, helping FMA launch the campaign. We have brought in dozens of our centers from our nationwide network and other groups to get involved in some way. From dedicating NIST MEP staff to work with FMA, NAM and its Manufacturing Institute as co-producers, and other sponsor organizations, to creating educational materials, to centers helping manufacturers stand up inaugural events and bring in community partners, we have played a supporting role at the national level while also driving grassroots efforts across the country.
IMPO: What kind of role do you see events like Manufacturing Day having in the resurgence of American manufacturing?
Kilmer: When students, their parents, educators, policy makers, and the manufacturing industry come together, we can effect change. We can transform our current challenges and turn them into opportunities. A chance for parents to recognize manufacturing as a great professional career path so more of them encourage their children to pursue it. A chance for students to get a real life perspective on how stuff gets made by looking inside manufacturing facilities, which can spark their interest in a manufacturing career so they learn what they need to study in order to land one of these great jobs. And it's a chance for our country to look forward with optimism and determination to claim a strong, successful future with a new kind of manufacturing. Where we innovate, design, and build things all in the same place—in towns and cities around the country with American workers. And we sell those products everywhere.
IMPO: Is there still time for manufacturers to get involved? What can they do?
Kilmer: Yes, manufacturers can still register their own open houses on www.mfgday.com  by October 1—or can find a local event , attend in a show of support and to build connections with other partners, encourage their community members to register, and mark their calendars for October 4, 2013 for next year's Manufacturing Day. This is their day so we hope as many manufacturers as possible are involved in Manufacturing Day in some way.
To learn more about Manufacturing Day, log on to www.mfgday.com or call 888-394-4362. Organizations that wish to become involved as official sponsors of this program should call 888-394- 4362 or email email@example.com .
Manufacturing Day will highlight the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy and draw attention to the rewarding, high-skill jobs available in manufacturing fields. Through open houses, tours, career workshops, and other events held at participating facilities on October 5, MEP and other sponsors hope to introduce as many as possible to the important role played by manufacturing.