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Network Members Share Ideas With Engineering Dean

RALEIGH (April 11, 2012) – Against the backdrop of wooded Lake Raleigh, Manufacturing Makes It Real Network members gathered Wednesday in the Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center on the NC State Centennial Campus for a members-only lunch. The get-together  was an opportunity for Network members to share face-time with key College of Engineering decision makers.

Among those representing the university were Dean of Engineering, Dr. Louis Martin-Vega and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development, Terri Helmlinger Ratcliff.

Entertaining a range of questions and comments from attendees, Martin-Vega discussed the importance of U.S. manufacturing. “You can’t have an economy moving forward without making stuff,” he said. “Economies can’t be moved by shifting numbers on a balance sheet.” 

David Padget, Director of Production and Quality at 3 Phoenix in Wake Forest, began discussion with his company’s desire for engineering students with greater hands-on experience in design and production cycles. The sentiment was echoed by other attendees. “You have some kids who, in their souls, want to design stuff and see it built,” Padget said, “If we could hire NC State students who could design, and understood the process, that would be great for us.”

To further that end, Martin-Vega encouraged the state’s manufacturers to accept greater numbers of interns, providing them with real-world experience. Members also suggested consideration of a degree concentration certificate in design.

Martin-Vega also asked members to consider engineering project sponsorships, creating broader educational access to NC State students and allowing companies to see potential candidates in action.

“We want to do whatever we can to help manufacturing in the state,” said Jerry Pedley, president of machine designer and manufacturer Mertek.

Members also took time to network with one another and view products on display in the alumni center hall. “There are more North Carolina manufacturers than I realized,” said Warren Baumbarger, business development expert at Raleigh-based Mid-Atlantic Crane. 

The event concluded with guided tours of four university research facilities.

Of the event’s significance, Network Manager Gene Fornaro said, “Everyone, I think, took away an understanding of the willingness of any department at NC State to work with this state’s industries.”

The next Network event will take place on Wednesday, May 16 at Glen Raven, Inc. in Burlington, NC. Attendance at the event is open to all North Carolina manufacturers but please RSVP. Space is limited.