From the Web: Welding instead of French; a heavy-metal tour; cutting energy costs

June 24, 2014
By: Vicki Bell

Highlights for fabricators from the past week’s Web articles— Welding to satisfy math and language requirements; heavy-metal tour attracts future workforce; companies join to lower energy costs; stampers expect slight downturn; and metal sculpture transcends art.

  1. Thanks to new state legislation, beginning in 2016, high school students in Michigan can satisfy requirements for Algebra II and one foreign language credit by taking courses like welding, computer science, construction, or electronics.

    Proponents of the new law say allowing skilled trades classes to substitute for the math requirement will encourage students to pursue careers in fields like construction; opponents say the changes weaken the state’s graduation standards.

    What do you think? Share your comments in the comment section below.

  2. In neighboring state Wisconsin, 90 high school students recently embarked on the fourth Heavy Metal Bus Tour of four central Wisconsin manufacturers.

    The tour’s first goal is to inform students about the great career opportunities that exist in manufacturing, and the second is to let them know these opportunities exist in their backyard of central Wisconsin, an area listed as the fifth best area to raise a family by Forbes Magazine.

    The students learned throughout the day that the work environment has really changed in manufacturing during the past several years. Current and future manufacturing jobs require skills in technology and a strong education. Almost every position in manufacturing requires a two- or four-year degree within a specialized field. “Soft” skills, such as work ethic, honesty, communication, teamwork and attitude, were emphasized by each of the companies along the tour.

  3. Five companies in the Brockton, Mass., area have learned firsthand about the strength in membership when it comes to controlling energy costs.

    Four fabricating companies and a safety consulting and certification company were among 30 business statewide that joined the Massachusetts Manufacturing Energy Collaborative announced in April by Gov. Deval Patrick. The collaborative offers lower-cost power to members by negotiating bulk rates with electricity and natural gas suppliers. A membership perk that really pays.

  4. Summertime and the traditional business slowdown is predicted for at least one area of metal manufacturing—metal forming.The June 2014 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report indicated that metal forming companies expect a slight downturn in business conditions during the next three months.

    The report shows that 31 percent of those surveyed predict that economic activity will improve during the next three months (down from 33 percent in May, 54 percent expect that activity will remain unchanged (down from 60 percent last month), and 15 percent believe that activity will decline (up from 7 percent in May.

    Skateboarder Alex Midler at Red Bull's Skate Space in Seattle. Image courtesy of Red Bull.

    PMA President William Gaskin said, “Recent feedback from members during executive roundtables in the Twin Cities and Indiana, and reports of business conditions during PMA’s recent Board of Directors meeting, indicates that orders and shipments remain stable with modest growth anticipated during the balance of the year, unless global security issues escalate to the extent that they lead to a disruptive situation for the overall U.S. or global economy.”

  5. Finally, energy drink maker Red Bull is well-known for supporting various sports and events. To that end, the company has melded art, steel, and function to create a fairly unique structure for Jefferson Park in Seattle to serve as “skateable art” for skateboarders.

    Pro skateboarder Torey Pudwell and Oregon-based artist CJ Rench began designing the Red Bull Skate Space in early 2013. Made of mild carbon and stainless steel, the structure weighs in at 11,000 lbs. and stretches more than 50 ft. wide and 22 ft. tall. It took 26 people to move and install it.

    "Bridging the game between art and sport is such a cool concept, but once we finished putting this up I realized that we had done it," Rench said in a statement released by Red Bull. "Seeing moms and dads sitting on the sculpture as their kids skated around, it was just icing on the cake to see all of these people enjoy one art piece so differently."

Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209