Due to the skills shortage in manufacturing, employers are creating innovative ways to increase awareness and nurture contacts that may pay dividends years down the road, maybe not to them directly but certainly to their industry. An example is the recent recognition of GAM, a Mount Prospect, IL, manufacturer of precision gear reducers, by the Northwest Educational Council for Student Success (NECSS) for helping to educate middle school students who are interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. According to an article in Midwest Manufacturing News, twice a year students from Thomas Middle School visit GAM as part of their Careers Connection class to be introduced to career options and to identify their own interests and strengths. At GAM the students take surveys, participate in discussion groups, and then have an on-site job shadow experience. They are engaged in an interactive learning experience and then tasked to design and manufacture an actual product. Using CAD modeling software and a 3D printer, students leave GAM with a part they actually produced. This year GAM expanded its educational outreach to John Hersey High School. According to Craig Van den Avont, President of GAM, “It is extremely rewarding to know that GAM played a positive role in the lives of the next generation of engineers.”

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