Broadening Horizons with Augmented Reality for Manufacturing Month

A hand holding a smartphone showing the Transfr AR Experience.

Share this story

October is Manufacturing Month! Manufacturers, career and technical education (CTE) educators and a wide array of other aligned groups rally together to remind the world how important manufacturing is to all of our daily lives and that manufacturing is happening right now all around them. In communities all across the USA — and especially in Illinois — manufacturing jobs are surging back!

The problem? The general public isn’t really aware of this. Both students and job seekers don’t see a career in the manufacturing industry as a valid path for them. And even if they are interested in manufacturing careers, they may not know how to get started. The result is a disconnect between local pools of undiscovered talent and unfilled jobs with great pay and benefits.

Career exploration right now is primarily limited by student and facilitator time constraints,” says Tom Darling, Director of Career Exploration and Product-Market Fit at Transfr. “You also have students who just don’t see the relevance of career exploration.”

In order to overcome this lack of knowledge about manufacturing jobs, the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and IMEC (Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center) are touring the state with the Makers on the Move bus tour — and Transfr is going with them! While most people think “VR” when they think Transfr, we’re rolling out a special Illinois-focused version of our amazing Augmented Reality (AR) Experience to help students and job seekers understand the manufacturing job opportunities in their state and how to get them.

The power of the AR Experience is that anyone can access it from anywhere with just their smartphone! Combine that with a fun, festive tour bus filled with manufacturing experts, stopping at schools and factories and you have a recipe for changing lives and building a better future.

IMA, IMEC, and Manufacturing Month raise awareness about manufacturing careers

Manufacturing Month exists to raise awareness about careers in the manufacturing industry and to help change perceptions about the industry. The IMA highlights and assists the efforts of manufacturers across the state, “solving problems and getting results by using cutting-edge tools and technology…” Additionally, their “Education Foundation is a world-renowned organization working to implement best-in-class solutions to develop the next generation manufacturing workforce.”

Sarah Hartwick, Vice President of Education and Workforce Policy with the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, joined us on an episode of Upward, the Transfr podcast, to talk about the organization’s efforts to change minds about manufacturing and help reinvigorate the industry in Illinois.

“One of the biggest missions of the Illinois Manufacturers Association is changing people’s impression that manufacturing is dark, dirty, and dangerous,” Sarah says. “It’s clean, high-tech, sustainable, and diverse. It is a very strong career, and more modernized than it was before.”

This year’s statewide bus tour, stopping in over a dozen locations, aims to bring that message directly to the people who need to hear it most: Communities where manufacturing is roaring back and where local people can find sustaining wages in rewarding careers.

“Manufacturing’s economic output is over $54 billion annually,” Sarah explains. “An average manufacturing employee’s salary in Illinois is over $79,000 a year and the industry employs over 660,000 people. However, there are still 800,000 job openings within the manufacturing sector across the country.”

The Transfr AR Experience doubles down on the IMA’s awareness-raising mission by focusing on high-demand manufacturing careers in the state of Illinois.

AR experience broadens horizons

Transfr’s main product lines all take place in VR: Career exploration, where users can immerse themselves in quick looks at various jobs in a wide array of industries; or virtual skills training, where users get simulated hands-on experiences that help them build confidence and competence in fundamental tasks they’ll need on the job. However, we built the AR Experience to help users in any location in Illinois dig into careers with just a smartphone.

“Our goal for the Transfr AR experience is to give a high-level view of different manufacturing career options to help interested learners better understand where skills training can lead them,” says Tranfr’s Vice President of Creative and Brand, Alexandra Zaccaria. “The experience showcases the entire classroom-to-career pathway and takes students through training options for five of the sector’s most in-demand jobs in manufacturing. It also includes job numbers, salaries, and employers in Illinois.”

We’ve seen huge engagement numbers around VR in our efficacy studies, and AR is even more accessible since anyone with a smartphone can access the experience. Equipped with the information in the AR app: Job listings, descriptions, salaries, and training pathways, we hope to help change some minds and win some hearts back to the venerable — and vital — manufacturing industry.

“We’re at a really cool time where people should be seeing what manufacturing floors look like today,” says Sarah. “They don’t know that it’s so high-tech, they don’t know what it pays. Newer generations want to be passionate about their career. They want to feel that they have an impact.”

Want to read more about the AR Experience?

Picture of Jack Cieslak
Jack Cieslak
Jack Cieslak is the Editorial Director at Transfr. He’s worked in tech for over a decade, writing for Amazon, CB Insights, and Sisense, among others. When he’s not behind a computer, he enjoys martial arts, gardening, hiking, and of course, reading. A seasoned public speaker, Jack is also the host of Upward, the Transfr podcast.