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How the MEP National Network Celebrated Manufacturing Day 2019 Provides Ideas for 2020

A group of students and their tutor going over their experiment results at an engineering college.
Credit: iStock/TommL

It’s never too early to start planning for Manufacturing Day — held the first Friday of October. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at how manufacturers across the U.S. celebrated MFG Day 2019. More than 325,000 students, teachers and parents across the country attended one of more than 3,000 Manufacturing Day events in 2019, and got to see the present — and future — of a crucial industry with nearly limitless career possibilities.

What started in 2012 with 240 events has exploded to more than 3,000 annual MFG Day events held in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, as well as online events that welcomed anyone with an internet connection. MFG Day 2019 was held October 4th and featured a wide range of hosts, from industry leaders such as Boeing, Dow Chemical, and ExxonMobil to local manufacturers including Timbuk2 Bags in San Francisco, Elmer Chocolate in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and Beer Lab HI in Aiea, Hawaii.

Since the beginning, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has supported MFG Day. The entire MEP National NetworkTM promotes MFG Day and its related events, and many MEP Centers set aside the entire month of October to maximize this critical opportunity for manufacturers across the country to show the world what they do and how they do it. Here are some examples of how MEP Centers within the Network helped manufacturers create their own special MFG Day and inspire future careers in manufacturing:


The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, glassware manufacturer Annieglass, and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) hosted a celebration of artisan goods and food to connect Monterey Bay Area manufacturers with local resources and service providers.


The St. Augustine Branch of the American Association of University Women hosted a breakfast presentation by Tina Berger, director of talent development at FloridaMakes, the MEP Center in Florida, and executive director of the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Leadership Council. Berger shared ideas on encouraging women to achieve careers in manufacturing.


The Southwest Idaho Manufacturers’ Alliance hosted its fifth annual “Made Here!” Expo and Job Fair, sponsored by the MEP Center in Idaho, TechHelp. The Expo was for anyone interested in how things are made or who wanted to see what career opportunities might be available with local companies. Exhibitors included Boise State University, Micron Technology and Darigold.


Fifteen hundred high school students attended Southwestern Illinois College’s MFG Day celebration, touring its Industrial Technology Center and meeting representatives from more than 30 local manufacturers. Machine-tool builder Haas Automation donated $20,000 to defray costs of the event and fund technology education scholarships. The event was presented in partnership with the Granite City Economic Development Department, the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC, the MEP Center in Illinois), Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Madison County Employment and Training, St. Clair County, and the Southwestern Madison County Chamber of Commerce.


The Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership hosted the inaugural Maryland Manufacturing Innovation Conference, where almost 150 leaders from the state’s manufacturing community participated in workshops and listened to keynote speeches by Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz and Offutt Outdoors President Bryan Offutt.


Northwestern Michigan’s MFG Day, one of nearly 200 events in the state, saw students visit local businesses such as Boride Engineered Abrasives, Clark Manufacturing and SMI Aerospace for tours and presentations. Each student received a drawstring MFG Day bag, which contained a pair of safety glasses, as well as a sample of GoGo squeeZ fruit and vegetable snacks — which were manufactured in nearby Grawn, Michigan. The bag served a dual purpose to hold company products, some of which the kids helped make during their visit. The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, (MMTC, Michigan’s MEP Center), was involved in this state initiative.


Brewer Science hosted a Manufacturing Day Exhibit and Job Fair, featuring tours of local businesses MachMotion and Cohen Architectural Woodworking. This event provided the public an opportunity to learn more about regional manufacturers, and the organizations that support manufacturing. Missouri’s MEP Center, Missouri Enterprise, was an exhibitor.


Flathead Manufacturing Month was supported by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) and included a Timber Tour that showcased an active timber harvest and presentation on wood-product production, as well as a gathering of teachers and counselors to demonstrate manufacturing tools such as CNC machines and plasma cutters. In Bonner, Montana, just outside of Missoula, MMEC hosted a networking event at Kettlehouse Brewing that included a tour of the facility and a keynote presentation by Simms Fishing Products, recognized by the Montana Manufacturing Association as the 2018 Montana Manufacturer of the Year.

New Hampshire

As part of New Hampshire’s Manufacturing Month, representatives from Watts Water Technologies, Eptam Precision Manufacturing Solutions, Graphicast and other local companies (several of which are clients of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Partnership) presented their products and put them in the context of how they impact their respective industries worldwide.

New Jersey

New Jersey Business & Industry Association President Michele Siekerka highlighted how the state has approximately 10,000 manufacturers as part of NJMEP’s eighth annual MFG Day. Several of these companies were recognized for their work, including eMachine Shop as Small Manufacturer of the Year, Puratos Corp. as Medium Manufacturer of the Year and Thorlabs, Inc. as Large Manufacturer of the Year.


Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley visited the joint headquarters of Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute. Kelley also visited Astrobotic, a former Carnegie Mellon startup that is building a lunar lander.

Puerto Rico

Valero, Inc., Serrallés Distillery and Stryker (all clients of PRiMEX, Puerto Rico’s MEP Center) were some of the manufacturing plants to hold MFG Day tours in Puerto Rico. University students attended campus conferences on topics such as Industry 4.0, agro-industry and new technology trends in manufacturing, including cybersecurity. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, Frito Lay, and Microsoft participated in a demonstration of a food company’s process line.


The 2019 BizTimes Next Generation Manufacturing Summit included a panel discussion with the heads of Komatsu Mining Corp., Twin Disc Inc., Badger Meter Inc., Connoils LLC and Pindel Global Precision on leveraging local connections to solve common challenges as technology takes manufacturing to uncharted waters. Event sponsors include 3M, BMO Harris Bank, David & Kuelthau, GSC, CG Schmidt, CiftonLarsonAllen, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Vistage.

Manufacturing Day 2020 and Beyond

If your business is interested in participating in this year’s MFG Day, October 2, 2020, you can find a wealth of suggestions and planning tools at Whether you host or sponsor, or simply want to attend an event to see how you can help support the future of manufacturing, the MFG Day website is an invaluable resource to make MFG Day 2020 even bigger!

To get even more hands-on help organizing, promoting and sharing your event, make sure to connect with your local MEP Center.

About the author

Mark Schmit

Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), since 1988, has been committed to strengthening U.S. manufacturing, continually evolving to meet the changing needs of manufacturers. As division chief for regional and state partnerships, Mark is the lead for division policy and has assisted in the development of programs supporting manufacturing and industrial extension technology-based economic development, and entrepreneurship practices with state elected officials and policy makers, including the MEP policy academies, which were designed by MEP and partners to help states build upon existing strategies, leverage available resources, and spur creative new ideas about how to address major challenges or leverage opportunities around the manufacturing sector.  Mark is responsible for developing partnerships with both the public and private sector entities. He was an MEP co-lead for the creation of MFG Day, an outreach program held on the first Friday in October to show students, parents, and the public what modern manufacturing is all about, with growing annual participation across the United States. Mark was a 2001, 2005, 2014, and 2020 recipient of NIST’s George Uriano Award.  The George Uriano Award recognizes outstanding achievements by NIST staff in building and strengthening NIST extramural programs and partnerships.

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