SOUTH-TEC Bright Minds, Manufacturing Playground Designed to Inspire, Challenge Future Talent

High school and post-secondary students and educators will have the opportunity to experience manufacturing hands-on during the upcoming SOUTH-TEC manufacturing event, taking place October 27-29 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The event hosts more than 400 industry-leading companies and addresses trends and issues important to the southeast region to improve production processes, technologies and capabilities. Day three will feature SME’s Bright Minds program that includes a “Manufacturing Playground,” industry keynote speakers, young professional Career Pathway chats and an exclusive tour of participating exhibitors on the show floor.

Bright Minds is a program developed by SME to reinforce the value of manufacturing education, providing hands-on learning experiences for high school and postsecondary students with support from educators, industry and SME members.

“Education is critical to the growth of U.S. manufacturing,” said Cathy Kowalewicz, SOUTH-TEC event manager at SME. “We’ve incorporated some unique education and mentoring programs into SOUTH-TEC so that students gain a true sense of what a career in manufacturing requires and provides, as well as the chance to connect with industry professionals that may assist them in career choices.”

Students attending SOUTH-TEC can engage with educators from technical and community colleges from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as professionals from companies including program partners Mastercam and Stratasys, about manufacturing career paths, and valuable curriculum and skills that would be beneficial in their career goals. Keynote speakers, presentations and panels focused on workforce development include:

  • Cultivating Growth in Manufacturing; Brian Summers, vice president, Mastercam
  • Additive Manufacturing – Building Careers of the Future; Sig Behrens, general manager of education, Stratasys
  • Career Pathways; Brian Flores, senior manager for branding education, Sandvik Coromant USA

The Manufacturing Playground at SOUTH-TEC gives students and educators the opportunity to learn and observe how diverse technologies can be used collaboratively to create a promising final product. Both a CNC Lathe and a 3D printer will be in operation producing precision parts for a motorcycle to be built live on the event floor.

“Stratasys is proud to be a sponsor of Bright Minds for the fifth year now. This program provides young students the opportunity to learn about 3D printing and its many capabilities,” said Terry Hoppe, director of Applications Engineering. “We see a tremendous opportunity to bridge the gap between education and industry though the various additive manufacturing applications these students will learn.”

Through the Bright Minds Passport Tour, students and educators will have the opportunity to experience new, innovative technology like advanced robotics and animation.

“Workforce development is such a huge part of ensuring our industry will continue to grow and evolve, especially in this region. Programs like this help shape and mold the skills and knowledge of tomorrow’s workforce,” said Dick Motley, Southeastern U.S. regional director, FANUC.

SOUTH-TEC is free for students, educators and SME members. To register and find more information about SOUTH-TEC 2015, please visit

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