The long-term future of South Carolina’s advanced manufacturing workforce is coming sharply into focus over the next month as students across the state join a competition that could win them a tour of Clemson University’s research facilities.

The Clemson University Center for Advanced Manufacturing has challenged students in grades 2-7 to envision what manufacturing will be like in the future. A website for the competition includes a lesson structure for teachers and three different challenges from which students can choose.

Joshua Summers, professor of mechanical engineering, is organizing the Future of Manufacturing Dream Competition.

Joshua Summers, professor of mechanical engineering, is organizing the Future of Manufacturing Dream Competition.

The Future of Manufacturing Dream Competition introduces students to advanced manufacturing, a cornerstone of the state economy, and how technology is transforming the industry. Eleven percent of South Carolina’s total non-agricultural employment in 2018 was in the manufacturing industry, according to the state Department of Commerce.

Students in the competition are challenged to envision a day in the life of a future manufacturing worker, or explain how a basic product might be made in the future, or complete a story about a worker who finds something surprising in a facility that manufactures pet food.

“The competition gives teachers and students a fun way of thinking about what engineering and manufacturing will look like in the future,” said Joshua Summers, a mechanical engineering professor. “We thought that teachers would find a suitable package of materials useful in this time of distance learning.”

Students have until June 15 to submit their entries. They can choose from wide variety of formats, including written documents, drawings, illustrations and videos.

Winners will be announced via email on Aug. 30. They will be invited to tour the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and to participate in a hands-on workshop with University researchers.

“The students with the most creative, forward-thinking, and innovative views of the future will be invited to visit Clemson University in fall for this special recognition event,” Summers said. “The teachers and parents will also be invited for this event as the main drivers behind the students’ passion.”

Competition organizers are suggesting that teachers open their lessons with a 10-minute lecture introducing students to advanced manufacturing, followed by 10 minutes of discussion, 15 minutes of group research and then 30-60 minutes of working on the challenges.

All the materials and a link for submitting entries can be found here: https://clemsoncam.com/challenge/

The Clemson University Center for Advanced Manufacturing consolidates all the University’s interdisciplinary education, research, innovation and manufacturing-oriented activities under one umbrella, said Mark Johnson, who serves as the center’s director and the Thomas F. Hash Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development.

 “This competition is aimed at helping South Carolina secure its future manufacturing workforce,” Johnson said. “We aim to create a pipeline filled with diverse talent not only for the next year but for many decades into the future.”

For more information, contact Summers at jsummer@clemson.edu.