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Gen Z Shows Stronger Manufacturing Passion Abroad

A 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate says digital transformation is the key to attracting Gen Z.

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Eric Sorensen

Ankur Verma, a 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate at Penn State and founder of Lightscline, joined the latest episode of the Gen Z in Manufacturing podcast to discuss his experience in smart manufacturing.

Verma's interest in manufacturing began in high school in Western India and cited his father's background as a professor of mechanical engineering. He has held internships with GM and Tata Technologies, was awarded a National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps mini-grant, is a recipient of the Diefenderfer Graduate Fellowship in Entrepreneurship and, most recently, was recognized by SME as one of the 2023 "30 Under 30" honorees.

Having lived in multiple countries, Verma was exposed to various manufacturing cultures. While Verma claimed Gen Z is interested in manufacturing in specific regions of the U.S., he admitted that the passion was "much more prevalent" in Germany.

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"[Germany] already has a very strong apprenticeship system," Verma said. "They necessarily don't have to do a four-year degree, but they can go work in CNC shops and so on. Fortunately, this is happening in the U.S. also. There are a lot of programs by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy encouraging these things. So I'm hopeful that this accelerates in the U.S. as well."

Verma added that "better messaging" from manufacturing employers would help to attract Gen Z talent. As a founder of Lightscline, a company that offers AI-based data-reduction software, Verma said he is constantly thinking of the best "one-liner" to communicate the company's bigger picture.

"If I just say that we are analyzing large sensor data, that is sort of a technical narrative," Verma said. "But if I say that we are rethinking the Shannon Nyquist sampling theorem, which was developed in the 1940s, that is a much more appealing narrative to people that have some technical knowledge and also who can see the future."

Gen Z in Manufacturing Episodes

If you are a member of Gen Z and would like to discuss your experience in the manufacturing industry, please contact Nolan Beilstein at [email protected].

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