Ellery Kring didn’t set out to begin a career in manufacturing. In fact, she wasn’t initially focused on a long-term career at all.
“I was pretty typical out of high school,” said Kring. “I needed some money and a job.”
The Kentucky native heard of a job opening at appliance manufacturer Bosch through someone she knew and secured an entry-level role that helped pay the bills. But when she learned about an apprenticeship opportunity through the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) program, she saw a chance to build something more substantial.
The program: Founded in 2010 by Toyota and operated today by The Manufacturing Institute, FAME aims to help students become highly skilled, sought-after makers capable of meeting the unique needs and challenges of the modern manufacturing sector.
- It serves as a career pathway program for current and aspiring manufacturing workers, providing them with on-the-job training and classroom education, leading to an associate degree and the FAME Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) certificate.
A “no-brainer”: “Bosch is a pretty big sponsor of FAME in northern Kentucky, and I heard about it through word of mouth on the plant floor,” said Kring. “I had a strong feeling that I liked being in industry, and when I heard that Bosch had a program that would train you in maintenance and pay for your school, it was a no-brainer.”
- “They allowed us to shadow other departments—quality, manufacturing, logistics,” Kring said. “And in addition to a technical degree, they also gave you the soft skills to help you make your own career.”
The path: After her FAME graduation four years ago, Kring served as a Manufacturing Engineering Systems (MES) application engineer, helping to digitize the shop floor and integrate solutions to improve efficiency in production lines. Kring describes the role as “production IT”—maintaining, troubleshooting and implementing new solutions.
- She has recently moved onward and upward—on Aug. 1, she began a new project role that will allow her to focus on building server infrastructure and communications.
The support: Kring credits the FAME program with her success and especially appreciates that it allowed her to keep working while furthering her education.
- “I definitely have that program to credit for where I am now,” said Kring. “They got me the associate degree, which was such a big deal—having an actual degree. Other employers had certification programs, but this got me a degree.”
- “Because it’s hands on, I got to shadow an engineer, and since I was an apprentice, I got my foot in the door in this department,” said Kring. “If it wasn’t for the FAME program, I wouldn’t have seen this department, or known that I would have been interested in such a job.”
The industry: Kring notes that the reality of advanced manufacturing is far different from the stereotypes she had in mind when she first began considering a career in the industry. She encourages other job seekers to give it a second look:
- “Manufacturing is versatile,” said Kring. “I would highly advise people to be aware of
- how diverse and advanced it is. You could be in logistics and planning, or IT, or purchasing, or marketing.”
- “It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no one thing in manufacturing. It’s constantly growing and expanding. . . . Once you get your foot in the door, you have limitless possibilities for the rest of your life.”
Kring also encourages other women to join the field and says that, while manufacturing may currently be a male-dominated industry, there are plenty of opportunities for women who are interested in making their mark.
- “Women are perfectly capable of doing anything that a man” can do, said Kring. “There are women in this field, and we need more. I would tell women not to have preconceived notions about the industry. Don’t be intimidated, and don’t let any preconceived ideas or stereotypes stop you from going after it.”
The last word: “FAME set the path for my entire career,” said Kring. “I can’t speak highly enough about it. You can’t go wrong—it’s only a year and a half long program. It pays for your school, you get hands-on work experience, and you come out of it debt-free. It’s a quick program that has a lifetime effect in a positive way.”