The Medical Device and Manufacturing show was last week in this part of the country. As I was walking out of the parking garage I met a representative of a contract manufacturing firm and struck up a conversation. As we talked the subject came up that his group designed everything in the U.S. and manufactured it in China. He noted, however, that recently the Chinese manufacturing work force has received a 30% hike in wages on the heels of a previous similar hike a number of months before. He felt that although not yet significant these hikes were beginning to get industry wide attention for their eventual impact on product cost. The implications were that corporations would begin thinking about other locations if the trend continues. This may herald the first glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel for U.S. manufacturing.
I made the rounds of the floor and found a few other interesting items of note. Speaking with a CEO of one of Michigan’s medical device companies I learned that a new B.S. level engineering offering which focuses on Biomedical Engineering is being created in Michigan which will apparently have a heavier than typical emphasis on meeting the needs of the medical device industry. Grand Valley State University has a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering and also is gearing up a minor for student engineers in the traditional engineering programs. In a separate discussion I also spoke with a representative of a engineering consulting firm and found that they exclusively hired from their internship program. They appeared to take internships exclusively from Rose Hulman. One of the reasons was the level of preparation the students had in Solidworks. I didn’t see any specific reference to computer aided design in the Rose Hulman Biomedical Engineering Program although I did notice and CAD/CAM course in the catalog that could be taken as an elective.