In discussions about what skills manufacturing students need in order to succeed in their careers, STEM skills are usually the first thing mentioned.
In manufacturing, STEM focus can generally be reduced down to technology and math, as they’re some of the most closely-related educational skills to what employees use in manufacturing. But surprisingly enough, one thing that doesn’t come up often is coding (or programming)–and we’re not sure why.
While it’s clear to most how technology and math are related to careers in manufacturing, it may not be as clear how coding is related.
The most obvious connection between coding and manufacturing lies in things like CNC technology. CNC, or computer numerical control, is used often in machining and other precision manufacturing. Even though the machining itself is automated once the CNC machine starts running, it has to be programmed in order to know the commands and controls necessary for whatever is being machined, making coding a valuable skill to have.
But even outside of CNC programming (which is a fascinating job and which can pay very well, by the way), coding has its advantages. All of manufacturing is turning towards the advanced manufacturing of today, which is heavily technology-based, making programming knowledge very valuable. Tech knowledge–especially in skills like coding–is very valuable to have, and can help make you more appealing as a candidate for a career in manufacturing.
So how can students get involved in coding if they’re not learning it in the classroom (as you can see in the attached image)?
Luckily, there’s been a big push recently to get students in all disciplines involved in coding, meaning that there are many ways to learn programming. Here are two of our favorites that can be found online:
- Code Academy: Code Academy is a free way to learn to code online. After you create your account, the site will walk you through many different lessons, each building upon the last. The best part about it is that you can learn at your own pace, so if you feel like taking a break, you can come back a day, a month, or a year later and pick up right where you left off.
- Code.org: Code.org is the official site of the movement we just mentioned to get students of all kinds involved in coding and programming. The biggest attraction here is the ‘hour of code,’ which is (unsurprisingly) exactly what it sounds like–an introduction to coding that takes an hour. It’s a great place to start, and if the intro piques your interest, you can move on to more advanced lessons!
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, local code schools like the Omaha Code School are a great way to kickstart your knowledge. These types of schools do generally charge tuition, but the small investment is often very much worth it for the increased career potential you’ll have, both in and out of manufacturing.
These days, as the world continues to become more focused on technology, having a knowledge and skill like coding is invaluable. And even though many people don’t know that there’s actually a strong connection between coding skills and certain manufacturing positions, there are a lot of careers in advanced manufacturing that could greatly benefit from individuals with programming knowledge. You could program a CNC machine, then work hands-on with machined parts all in the same day–it’s really the best of both worlds.
The best part about all of this is that thanks to sites like Code Academy and Code.org, learning to program is free! So if you have some free time, take a minute to check those sites out and get started. Coding is interesting, it’s fun, and it can help you land a better career in manufacturing, so really, what do you have to lose?
Photo credit: Change the Equation via Twitter