EASTEC 2019: Inspiring the next-gen workforce May 23, 2019 by Sandy Wilton, Manager, Student Engagement Entering its 35th year of showcasing the future of manufacturing, EASTEC continues to feature new technologies from leading industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical devices, industrial equipment, plastics, and defense. 170 high school students from 11 schools descended upon the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts from May 14-16 eager to explore and discover manufacturing career opportunities at the SME Education Foundation’s Student Summit event series. SME Education Foundation Student Summits deliver hands-on challenges and competitions designed to inspire the next generation of talent while empowering them to succeed in the ever-changing and innovative manufacturing industry. The Student Summit at EASTEC tested the knowledge and skills of each student during Ten80 Education’s Student UAV Challenge. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) challenge tested student teams to hack the brain of their drone, replace it with a custom Arduino-based flight controller and then develop code to configure their device to fly different missions. “My students really enjoyed the interaction with the drone building time and they were taken back by all the vendors and their willingness to talk to them about the trade. Manufacturing is alive and well and SME is helping to keep it going strong,” said Tate Ostiguy - Advanced Manufacturing Instructor - Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton, Massachusetts. During the UAV Challenge and Competition, each student learned about the importance of integrating hardware and software systems, and how they apply to manufacturing processes. After conquering the challenge, students formed groups and explored the vast EASTEC show-floor visiting hundreds of exhibiting manufacturing companies while participating in an Instagram challenge designed to provide opportunities for engagement with experts and to gain insight into potential career pathways. “What an amazing experience for our students regarding manufacturing & engineering. Extremely well organized, highly educational, and student-friendly booths and vendors. One of the best field trips I have attended in my 13 years as an SPS Educator said,” Paul Scovill of High School of Science & Technology, Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Massachusetts.