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Ongoing Illinois projects could lead to jobs

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From Illinois News Network

Innovators and entrepreneurs in Illinois have projects in the works that could help President Trump make good on his promise to bring back the manufacturing industries of the Rust Belt.

University of Illinois Senior Andrew Knight wants to use his degree in agricultural engineering to start his own manufacturing company. By working at the Champaign-Urbana Community FabLab, short for Fabrication Laboratory, he’s one step closer to that goal. “Having access to this place is great,” he said. “I can focus on design and development.”

He and others like him are part of the Maker Movement. In its most simple form, it’s the appreciation for reaching out to the world and manipulating it to better suit our needs.

Boosted by innovations in 3D printing and local communities willing to help create something that will solve a need, the Maker Movement has gone from simple Do-It-Yourself projects to people creating small-batch manufacturing hubs that can turn into job-creating businesses.

Dr. Quincy K. Brown is the program director of STEM education research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She said President Trump should wrap his arms around these innovators in an attempt to foster innovation and new manufacturing growth, similar to what President Obama did with the creation of the National Week of Making and holding a Maker Faire at the White House.

“Being able to shout it far and wide that this is a priority. This is something that the president thinks is important that the country really needs. That’s powerful,” she said.

Brown said the nation’s governors can use their megaphones to communicate the benefits of kids choosing a career in manufacturing. She said Gov. Rauner and others need to help dispel the old myth of a manufacturing career as toiling away in repetitive and dirty conditions. “The governor would be able to say it in terms that the parent would understand so that when their kids come to them saying they want to do this, they’ll say, ‘You know what? That’s really cool,'” she said.

Illinois could use some new manufacturing work. While neighboring states are hiring new talent, Illinois shed 11,000 manufacturing jobs last year, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).