Manufacturers May Be the New Nerds? (In a GREAT Way)

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Remember about 10 years ago? The Lord of the Ring movies had raked in awards (and millions of dollars), San Diego ComicCon became something you heard about, E3 became the trade show you wished you got to go to and The Big Bang Theory debuted, soon to become TV’s #1 show.

Suddenly “nerd culture” was all the rage. Writers were penning think pieces about how this was the ultimate victory for the kid that got picked on in high school. TV commentators discussed at length how this was a “cultural shift” and heralded a new age. 

Add to that the continued dominance of the Marvel superhero movies, and the last decade has definitely belonged to the kid that read comic books at lunch.

Well, I predict that the next decade will be the “Age of the Maker and Manufacturer.”

 

The maker movement has been bubbling under the surface for a few years now. As it has expanded, with cheaper and better home 3-D printers, maker spaces and even a maker trade show, it has underscored the importance of manufacturing to the world around us today. And that movement has grown too, with cities across the country now having collaborative work spaces for printing, woodworking, motorcycle repair and more.

Slowly but surely, local and national media have caught on, with more stories about schools adding vocation education back into curriculums, students helping those in need with rapid prototype prosthetics and more.

And there’s been a steady social media drumbeat too. Memes, so often the starting point for “fake news” and cheap insults, have focused on manufacturing and quotes from celebrities like Chip Foose. YouTube channels focused on the trades continue to add subscribers, with Jimmy Diresta having over 1.3 million followers.

Now, even the entertainment industry seems to be catching on. The trades, like my hometown Cleveland, aren’t the constant butt of jokes. In addition to all the basic cable shows that highlight manufacturing and the trades, there’s now even a prime time network show! Premiering on July 31st, “Making It” will feature Nick Offerman (who’s an excellent finish carpenter by the way) and Amy Poehler, as well as regular segments from the previously mentioned Jimmy Diresta. Initial reviews have been great, and I’m looking forward to watching it with the family. Hopefully, it will help my daughter see my constant mentioning of welding school before college as an opportunity rather than a threat!

While there’s no CNC-based superhero on the horizon (other than Titan Gillroy), there is definitely a shift in perception, and it’s for the better.

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