Bertram Opens International Manufacturing and Technology Show SmartForce Student Summit with Keynote Address

PLTW President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Vince Bertram’s message to students at the SmartForce Student Summit was clear: Take control of your learning.

Bertram opened the SmartForce Student Summit at the International Manufacturing and Technology Show (IMTS) on Monday morning. IMTS is the largest manufacturing trade show in the United States. The student-focused portion of the event gathered more than 10,000 middle school, high school, and college students, teachers, and their chaperones to experience advanced manufacturing technology and interact directly with manufacturing professionals.

“Innovators, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers built this great nation. They will continue to build it, if you’re up for the challenge,” Bertram told students. “There is tremendous opportunity for you to develop the skills that will prepare you for a successful life. You need to learn to problem-solve, think critically, and collaborate. It’s a whole new world that is open to you.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that by 2018, there will be 1.2 million unfilled jobs in the STEM fields due to a lack of qualified workers. STEM jobs will grow at nearly double the rate of non-STEM jobs. Many of the STEM jobs will be in manufacturing and technology.

“Look around you today,” Bertram told the students. “Look at all the opportunities, the number of people who are here supporting you and caring about you.”

He stressed the importance of not simply learning to “do school.” It’s not about learning to comply and get by, he said. Nor is it about students just following their dreams.

“What you really want is a great career that allows you to do what you want to do,” Bertram told them. “The way to do that is to develop skills. Think about what opportunities are available to you. Think about the kind of life you want, and then go get it.”