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Assisted & Augmented Reality: Not as Sci-Fi As You Think

It’s a common misconception among many manufacturers that assisted and augmented reality technology are outside their reach – mystical, gimmicky technology that really has no place on their production floor.

We get it. We’ve all read science fiction novels and seen the movies. These technologies are portrayed as “space-age” bits of hardware and software that certainly cost a fortune and probably require a PhD to operate. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Augmented and assisted reality (AR) technology is so accessible that it might already be something you use every day.

Let’s break it down.

CIRAS Staff News: Martin and Burant Shifting Roles

Two longtime CIRAS employees are taking on new roles in an attempt to serve Iowans better.

Have You Hired Your Summer Engineering Intern?

Spring is here, and that means summer won’t be far behind. Is your summer workforce where it needs to be? If not, Engineering Career Services at Iowa State University is eager to work with any company interested in hiring engineering interns during the coming summer. As of April 5, registrations are still being accepted in … Continue reading Have You Hired Your Summer Engineering Intern?

CIRAS to be Key in Manufacturing 4.0 Initiative

Work by CIRAS to increase the adoption of cutting-edge edge technology in Iowa manufacturing will play a key role supporting the state’s new plan for keeping Iowa industry competitive.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the new Manufacturing 4.0 Initiative on Thursday, saying it was intended to outline “new strategies to support (manufacturers’) efforts and ensure Iowa’s future prosperity is widespread, reaching all people in all parts of Iowa.”

The initiative, which is led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, creates strategies and actions focused on ensuring Iowa is a global leader in the next generation of manufacturing.

CIRAS Helps 43 North Iowa Chart New Course

Despite a global pandemic, two north Iowa service organizations will be ending 2020 on firmer footing thanks to a merger facilitated by CIRAS-arranged coaching and strategic planning. North Iowa Vocational Center Inc., or NIVC Services, formally joined with North Iowa Transition Center, or NITC, at the beginning of this year to become 43 North Iowa—a … Continue reading CIRAS Helps 43 North Iowa Chart New Course

Participants Needed for Study on Stress & Safety at Work

Researchers at the Occupational Safety program at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University are looking into how stress is affecting decision making on safety in manufacturing. The results from this study will be used to assist in developing programs and policies to reduce the negative impact that stress has on … Continue reading Participants Needed for Study on Stress & Safety at Work

Digital Lab: New Tech Brings New Possibilities

Iowa State University’s Digital Manufacturing Lab is adding new tools to give Iowa companies more minimal-risk ways to experiment with new technology. Chris Hill, director of the CIRAS Technology Assistance Program (TAP), said two new 3D printers will give the lab greater flexibility to produce detailed prototypes for Iowa companies looking to experiment with new … Continue reading Digital Lab: New Tech Brings New Possibilities

Experts: Start Planning for the COVID-19 Vaccine Now

COVID-19 wrought havoc on America’s economy in 2020, but the new year and new vaccines are bringing new hopes for return to normal in 2021.

However, Iowa experts have two messages for business leaders who are looking over the horizon and anxiously awaiting their shots: Start planning now, and be prepared for things to change.

Experts: Be Prepared for Anything during Economic Recovery

Iowa companies may be well positioned to navigate the coronavirus, but experts say they should be prepared for surprises during what is likely to be a long and unpredictable economic recovery.

Business leaders shouldn’t expect to suddenly reemerge in rosy times, they warn. Instead, plan for all contingencies, and don’t count on being able to relax anytime soon.

“I think basically what’s going to happen is that the economy is going to plug along until there’s some small interruption, and then we’ll have a setback,” said Mike O’Donnell, program director for the CIRAS Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “The looming threat is that if you’re not prepared to go through a sawtooth-type recovery, then that can be dangerous. Lack of cash flow is really dangerous as a manufacturer.”

CIRAS Survey FINAL UPDATE: Employee Well-Being Led COVID Concerns

September 18, 2020 — (Final Update) As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. Over several months, CIRAS conducted a phone survey so we could better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we learned during 23 weeks of survey:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

August 7, 2020 — (Update 20) As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources. Here is what … Continue reading CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

July 31, 2020 — (Update 19) As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

Iowa State’s ABE Department to Host Virtual Tour

Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering is hosting a virtual open house on Wednesday, August 5, so interested companies can learn more about the technology available on campus.

Interested businesses can participate in three 40-minute sessions covering Industrial Technology, Ag Engineering and Ag Systems Technology, and Biosystems Engineering.

Pandemic Pushing ISU Job Fairs Online

Career fairs at Iowa State University are going digital this fall.

University officials say the change is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides an option that still will allow employers to network with many students and alumni during the events. It also eliminates the time and expense of travel.

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

July 23, 2020 — (Update 18) As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

July 17, 2020 — (Update 17) As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

July 10, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources. Here is what we’ve learned … Continue reading CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

July 3, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

June 26, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources. Here is what we’ve learned … Continue reading CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

June 19, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

June 12, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

June 5, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

May 29, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

May 22, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Shifting Personnel to Expand Workforce Offerings

CIRAS Director Ron Cox today announced two changes designed to help the center improve its ability to serve Iowa businesses during challenging times.

Effective immediately, Teresa Hay McMahon is stepping down as program director of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC). McMahon instead will take on an urgent new assignment expanding CIRAS workforce-related programming under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center program.

Tracy Schuster, assistant director of the ILC and a part of the consortium team since 2012, will take over as ILC director.

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

May 15, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

May 8, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources. Here is what we’ve … Continue reading CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

May 1, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.  

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

Reminder: New CIRAS Services Can Help you Handle COVID-19

April was a disruptive time for Iowa businesses, and the challenges are not yet finished.

CIRAS has been honored to play roles in many of your COVID-19 stories over the past month. We wanted to take this chance to remind you that we’re still here to help you as those stories continues to develop. CIRAS has added new services in recent weeks to help with your pandemic response and recovery needs, and, as a part of the MEP National Network, we’re offering our traditional services in new ways to help your company get through this disaster.

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

April 24, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.  

The Basics of Fighting COVID-19

CIRAS exists to improve Iowa businesses by helping them identify research-proven best practices. Following are a collection of tips and links designed to point your company to the best possible information for navigating the current pandemic. For more, visit our site at www.ciras.iastate.edu/covid-19/.

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

April 17, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small and medium-sized businesses. CIRAS has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

April 10, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small-to medium-sized businesses. CIRAS, with a mission to enhance the performance of Iowa industry, has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

CIRAS Survey UPDATE: Business Impacts of COVID-19

 April 3, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future of small- to medium-sized businesses. CIRAS, with a mission to enhance the performance of Iowa industry, is conducting an ongoing phone survey so we can better understand of the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.

Here is what we’ve learned so far:

Iowa Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19; CIRAS Adapts to Assist

Thousands of face shields are scheduled to be delivered to Mary Greeley Medical Center this month as part of a CIRAS-coordinated effort to help Iowa manufacturers meet this state’s tremendous demand for personal protection equipment.

That’s just one of many instances where Iowa industry is coming together to overcome COVID-19.

CIRAS Survey: Business Impacts of COVID-19

MARCH 1, 2020 — As COVID-19 proliferates across our nation, the crisis continues to negatively impact our economy and spark concerns for the future for small- to medium-sized businesses. CIRAS, with a mission to enhance the performance of Iowa industry, has been conducting a phone survey so we can better understand the needs of Iowa companies and better connect them to appropriate resources.  

Here is what we’ve learned so far:  

CIRAS Status: Our Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 27, 2020

At CIRAS, our mission is to Enhance the performance of industry through applied research, education, and technical assistance. During times of crisis, we do everything we can to continue serving Iowa industry while ensuring the health and safety of our team and your team.

In order to serve you while minimizing risk to our team and Iowa industry, we are operating with some changes to our services:

Cobots Proving to Be a Smart Choice at Metalcraft

There are many reasons Iowa manufacturers come to Ramco Innovations looking for automation.

“Certainly, a lot of it is that it’s hard to fill a lot of positions these days,” said Joe Stoltz, vice president of technology for the West Des Moines company. “And once you find people, it’s hard to keep them doing a repetitive job.”

So how do you get more work done without adding staff? The correct technological solution for any particular company depends on exactly what you need machines to do. But Iowa manufacturers can’t answer those questions until they understand their options.

Develop Talent through Internships

Internships can feed the talent pipeline for many small- to medium-sized manufacturers facing serious workforce gaps as their senior employees near retirement. But internship success (finding, engaging, and retaining talent) requires strategy and planning to locate and groom qualified job candidates. As the Program Manager of Apprenticeship and Workforce at the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), I … Continue reading Develop Talent through Internships

Now Open: Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy

Dozens of Iowa manufacturers got their first glimpse of a path to new technologies on September 26, as CIRAS formally opened its new Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy.

Representatives from CIRAS, Alliant Energy, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) were joined by Iowa State University and Ames leaders for opening remarks and a tour.

Iowa Program Helps Companies Afford Extra Expertise — by Matching the Cost of Interns

Interns at ALMACO get much more than an overview of the company’s custom-built agricultural equipment. They become part of the team.

Brian Carr, ALMACO’s vice president of engineering, said student employees at the Nevada-based company get directly involved in completing projects—from initial design, through problem-solving challenges, to the eventual result.

 “We ask them to participate in every aspect of the development of a product,” Carr said. “It’s all collaborative engineering, and they’re just one more voice in the game.”

Northeast Iowa Conference to Address Manufacturing Workforce Challenges

Northeast Iowa manufacturers struggling to modernize and grow will have the chance to learn new strategies designed to improve their bottom line in any economy.

ISBF and IEDA Help Iowa Facilities Managers get a CEM

One key step toward making Iowa buildings more energy efficient is to place them into the hands of people who know how to find savings. Toward that end, two CIRAS partners have joined forces to help Iowa companies interested in reducing their energy costs.

Why Existing Workers Are the Real Answer to Iowa’s Workforce Problem

Iowa is out of people.

Almost every company I talk to, regardless of size, industry, or location, says that finding good people is their number one issue. The few exceptions are expert Lean practitioners—such as members of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC)—who tend to look at the issue differently: If every single person in our business was better at seeing, communicating, and solving problems, they ask, wouldn’t it help our workforce needs?

CIRAS to Partner with Alliant Energy, Open new Digital Manufacturing Lab

AMES, IA – Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Alliant Energy that will make it easier for Iowa manufacturers to implement new digital technologies and become more productive.

Cleaning Cobot is Coming to Miracle Tool America

Dozens of times each day, the skilled workers at Miracle Tools America in Davenport must stop what they’re doing and clean. Making drill bits can be a dirty business, and the tiny water channels that are used to keep tools cool have a tendency to get clogged.

Hence, the company decided to begin experimenting with a new type of employee – one that wouldn’t mind the monotony.

One who is made of metal.

 Leaning Together: Why ILC is Now Part of CIRAS

It’s the dawning of a new era for the Iowa Lean Consortium, and Teresa Hay McMahon is focused on a new world of service.

McMahon, executive director of the ILC since 2015, just finished leading the consortium through a new phase of its evolution. On July 1, the ILC formally moved under the CIRAS umbrella as part of a merger that’s intended to give both entities more resources to achieve their goals.

MEP Best Practices Conference: Lessons Learned

In September, leaders and subject matter experts from around the MEP National NetworkTM gathered in Kansas City for our biennial best practices conference. Why is this a big deal?  The 300 or so manufacturing experts in attendance brought back lessons learned from working with more than 26,000 U.S. manufacturers in the last year alone. In addition to sharing operational practices that make us successful, this was an opportunity to get a pulse on American manufacturing.

Come for MFG Day, Stay for the Relationship with Future Workers

Iowa’s nationally renowned campaign to encourage the statewide celebration of national Manufacturing Day has gotten a slight makeover in 2018—with new people leading Iowa State University’s efforts and an increased emphasis on reaching out to children and educators.

The Dimensional Group Finds a New Approach

By the time CIRAS walked through his door, Adam Gold was ready to listen.

It was 2014, and it was clear that The Dimensional Group was a company with problems. The Mason City custom packaging and commercial printing firm had stretched beyond its capabilities.

CIRAS SPOTLIGHT – Jeff Mohr

CIRAS project manager Jeff Mohr is easing his way into an early-June retirement. We managed to make him stop on his way out the door to share some of his wisdom.

WORKFORCE PIPELINE: CIRAS Helps Companies Find Solutions

CIRAS projects have a big impact on Iowa and its communities.

One of the things we do is to help companies find their way around a scarcity of workers. Sometimes, that means helping them reach out to graduating students:

It’s Iowa State University Career Fair Time Again

Iowa State University’s twice-yearly flurry of smart people seeking employment started on Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to attend a spring career fair:

The Future of Manufacturing is Happening Today

Every day we see something “new” in manufacturing. 3D Printed food, connected everything, cobots, and the list goes on. In fact, we’ve heard of these possibilities for decades. But something about these things seems a bit more real now than in the past. Like something important is happening

ISU Job Fairs Start Sept. 19 (but it all Starts with CyHire)

Iowa State University’s digital job board helps companies connect with a pool of potential employees that includes both graduates and current students.

“CyHire is my one-stop shop for finding internships,” said Bradley Hagen, a senior in mechanical engineering. “There are always hundreds of jobs on CyHire. The built-in search filter is helpful when deciding which companies and jobs I’m going to pursue.”

State of the State: Looking for Clues to Competitiveness in Iowa’s Manufacturing Wages

Wage levels both reflect and influence the competitiveness of Iowa’s manufacturing sector. The average manufacturing worker in Iowa earned $42,470 in 2015, about 86 percent of the national average. Accounting for Iowa’s lower cost of living improves the picture, boosting the state’s pay on a price parity basis to 95 percent of the U.S. average.

The pay differential* for Iowa’s manufacturing workers varies by the type of work they perform. Iowa’s average production worker, for example, earns 104 percent of the average U.S. production worker’s wage. Iowa‘s engineering-related workers average just 90 cents for every dollar earned by their national peers.

This article demonstrates how closer attention to wage distributions might inform the state’s innovation and workforce attraction/retention efforts. For our example, we classify Iowa and U.S. manufacturing jobs along two dimensions: occupation and inferred skill or experience level. Nine occupational groups are considered, which together account for 95 percent of all manufacturing jobs.

Iowa Program Helps Companies Afford Some Added Expertise—By Adding Interns

Interns at ALMACO get much more than an overview of the company’s custom-built agricultural equipment. They become part of the team.

Brian Carr, ALMACO’s vice president of engineering, said student employees at the Nevada-based company get directly involved in completing projects—from initial design, through problem-solving challenges, to the eventual result.

Iowa Officially Launches Year of Manufacturing

 Former Gov. Terry Branstad, Governor Kim Reynolds and a host of other Iowa governmental and business leaders recently unveiled a plan to boost Iowa factories during a “Year of Manufacturing.”

The Year of Manufacturing initiative, which was announced in January during Branstad’s Condition of the State address, is designed to be a 12-month, concentrated focus on improving Iowa’s manufacturing Gross Domestic Product. Led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and CIRAS, business leaders plan to fan out across the state to visit with companies and make certain that each firm is aware of the resources available to help them improve.

Iowa’s Governor Officially Launches ‘Year of Manufacturing’ Initiative

 Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and a host of other Iowa governmental and business leaders have unveiled a plan to boost Iowa factories during a “Year of Manufacturing.”

The Year of Manufacturing initiative, which was announced in January during Branstad’s Condition of the State address, is designed to be a 12-month, concentrated focus on improving Iowa’s manufacturing Gross Domestic Product. Led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and CIRAS, business leaders plan to fan out across the state to visit with companies and make certain that each firm is aware of the resources available to help them improve.

Iowa State Career Fairs Let Companies, Students Share Stories

Hundreds of companies will again flock to the Iowa State University campus next week for a twice-yearly ritual focused, on both sides of the handshakes, at quickly forging as many relationships as possible.

State of the State – by Liesl Eathington

A previous “State of the State” explored growth in Iowa’s young worker population and the fact that production jobs are a declining fraction of the opportunities available to them. The breadth of those opportunities—or at least workers’ perceptions of what opportunities exist in the labor market—can be glimpsed in trends for post-secondary education.

Iowa FIRST LEGO® League Close to Top in Per Capita Participation

Iowa now ranks second nationwide in per capita youth membership on a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team.

Yet, even with another year of explosive growth in Iowa youth getting a STEM boost through research and robots, Camille Schroeder, director of K–12 outreach programs at Iowa State University’s College of Engineering, said the participation milestone does not mean that Iowa’s FLL program has stopped recruiting students and mentors.

“We want to be able to provide this experience for any youth who wants it,” Schroeder said.

Snapshot of Iowa’s Professional and Business Services Sector

[ONE OF CIRAS’ REGULAR LOOKS AT A SECTOR OF THE IOWA ECONOMY. (By Liesl Eathington)]

CIRAS wraps up month-long “MFG Day” with Pizza, PowerPoint

Thanks to CIRAS and its partners, an estimated 8,000 or more Iowans ended October with a higher appreciation for the people who make a living making things.

School children, parents and community leaders attended a total of 149 events in October to commemorate national Manufacturing Day – an annual October 7 industry celebration that Iowa stretches into month-long educational opportunity.

Manufacturing Day (Month) 2016: Iowa Students Discover the Possibilities

Shelly Vanyo smiled happily as her science and engineering students milled around a Boone High School classroom ogling various tiny machine parts made inside a metal 3D printer at Iowa State University.

Mission accomplished. They students were excited, and their teacher was pleased.

Career Fairs are Coming! On-Campus Interviewing Saves Companies Money and Time

Each year, Iowa State University career fairs draw thousands of students seeking jobs and hundreds of companies recruiting new talent. This year, for companies looking to hire engineers, the only difference may be one of the settings—a new spot to conduct on-campus interviews.

CIRAS Strategy Coach Helps Facilitate Answers, Action

There are countless paths that a company can take in pursuit of growing revenue and increasing profitability. Every decision made along the way tends to matter: Should you invest in equipment upgrades, employee training, new technology, or better marketing? Should you push for better quality or new product features? How different are you, really, from your competitors? How do you identify and successfully navigate your most effective strategic path?

Working on Workforce: What to Measure and What Works Best

Iowa has been working on its workforce for a long time.

The state’s current labor market condi­tions are challenging employers who seek skilled workers. Some define the problem as a skills gap, others call it an overall workforce shortage, and still oth­ers blame current wage levels. Whatever the label, a growing disconnect between Iowa’s workforce supply and employer demands is threatening to weaken the state’s economic growth potential.

So what’s to be done?

Working on Workforce: What to Measure and What Works Best

Iowa has been working on its workforce for a long time.

The state’s current labor market condi­tions are challenging employers who seek skilled workers. Some define the problem as a skills gap, others call it an overall workforce shortage, and still oth­ers blame current wage levels. Whatever the label, a growing disconnect between Iowa’s workforce supply and employer demands is threatening to weaken the state’s economic growth potential.

So what’s to be done?

Working on Workforce: Productive Firms Have Fewer Problems Finding People

For Nancy Jacobs, it boils down to a tale of two departments.

In April, Jacobs became human resources manager for Misty Harbor, a Fort Dodge boat manufacturer that has been working with CIRAS for several years to get leaner and improve its productivity. Misty Harbor last year credited training in disciplines such as Lean manufacturing and the Theory of Constraints, among others, with boosting the company’s bottom line by an estimated $2 million in new and retained sales.

But the transformation is still in progress.

WORKFORCE: If They Won’t Come, Build It—With a Robot

The evolution of manufacturing is occurring bit by bit across Iowa—including, among other places, at a metal door factory in Mason City.

Curries, part of the Sweden-based ASSA ABLOY Group, is where roughly 490 production workers go each day to produce steel doors and frames.Since 2012, the company has been working steadily to automate the final phase of its door-handling process—a manual labor-intense procedure that tends to spawn high turnover and can cause the kind of muscle injuries that are common in an aging workforce.

Iowans Turn Out in Droves to Celebrate Manufacturing Day

U.S. Manufacturing Day technically was Oct. 2. But thanks to a long list of organizers and promoters (including CIRAS, Elevate Iowa, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and community colleges around the state) the celebration in Iowa continues throughout the rest of October.

Iowa State University Introduces Two New Online Master’s Degree Programs

ISU’s Engineering-LAS Online Learning recently launched new online master’s degree programs in engineering management and business analytics. Both are collaborative efforts with the Iowa State University College of Business.

WORKFORCE: In Worker Shortage, Companies Can Build Stability by Sharing

Donna Dau’s goal for each of the last three years has been to replace as few employees as possible.

But shrinking that number in the future means a lot of recruitment right now—both of new workers and of the new companies that Dau hopes will help her expand on a potentially groundbreaking way of dealing with Iowa’s looming shortage of skilled laborers.

CIRAS can help you find your Automation Answers

Iowa businesses want to know more about automation, and CIRAS is working on ways to help them.

CIRAS currently is looking to expand its automation support capabilities and could have more details available about that in the coming months.

WORKING ON WORKFORCE: The Importance of Growing What You’ve Got

In a time of tight budgets and unfavorable demographics, it’s in Dave Zrostlik’s best interest to keep all the employees he has.

Zrostlik is president of Stellar Industries, an employee-owned maker of truck-mounted hydraulic equipment in Garner. Like the rest of Iowa, Stellar faces a growing shortage of skilled workers, as older employees retire and young rural residents head out of town for the brighter lights of big cities.

Des Moines Career & Trades Expo on Friday

CIRAS is not a direct part of this, but we just want to remind you that the Des Moines Career & Trade Expo is set for Friday morning at the Valley Community Center in West Des Moines.

Produced by Cumulus Media, the expo  is presented by Tero International & Marketlink. Organizers say it will highlight employers looking for workers to fill positions within the Trades & Skilled Labor sector. But the expo also is being billed as an event “unlike any you may have previously attended.”

CIRAS News: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Tuesday. Another wave of numbers today, plus factory workers and farm machinery.

Here’s where to find it:

FYI: Friday, January 9, 2015

Happy Frozen Friday. (That’s a temperature-in-our-communications-office reference, not notice of a particular Disney-themed day at ISU.)

One of the things we hope to do with the CIRAS Newswire is make you more aware of interesting stories out there that impact industry or that you might have missed.

Here’s what we declare to be interesting today:

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