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The Next Generationfor Manufacturing Competitiveness?: Investigating the Influence of Industry-Driven Outreach on Children Career Perceptions


Manufacturing is considered one of the major economic drivers in the United States. However, a challenge for manufacturing competitiveness can be the negative perception of the industry held by children, and society as a whole, which may make them reluctant to pursue manufacturing careers and fulfill the projected workforce demands. Accordingly, there have been a number of talent pipeline initiatives to address the issues related to (1) the availability of a skilled workforce, (2) the preparation of students for the jobs of tomorrow, and (3) teacher access to the tools necessary to inspire children to pursue high-demand career pathways. While these industry-driven outreach initiatives are often developed with the best intentions, research attempts focused on better understanding the influences of these initiatives on children’s perceptions of manufacturing-related careers are necessary. Therefore, this study focused on investigating the career perceptions of children (Grades K-8) and the influence of an industry-led summer camp focused on robotics in manufacturing. To do so, data were collected from career-perception surveys and a “Draw-A-Manufacturer” test, which were administered before and after the camp experience. The influences of the summer camp on the participants’ career perceptions and interests are presented and used as a foundation for discussions and recommendations for developing outreach initiatives and preparing children for the future of work.

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This research was conducted with support from the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center and the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network regional cultivation fund.

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Correspondence to Greg J. Strimel.

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Survey Questions

Table 6 Grades K – 2 pre- and post-survey questions
Table 7 Grades 3–8 pre- and post-survey questions

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Strimel, G.J., Krause, L., Bosman, L. et al. The Next Generationfor Manufacturing Competitiveness?: Investigating the Influence of Industry-Driven Outreach on Children Career Perceptions. Journal for STEM Educ Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41979-020-00028-w

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  • Manufacturing education
  • STEM outreach
  • Career perceptions
  • Industry-education partnerships