New Report, Detroit Event Highlight Software’s Role in Manufacturing

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

What role does software play in the manufacturing sector? That was the question at the heart of a robust discussion held Monday, June 18 at the Microsoft Technology Center in Detroit.

As part of an ongoing Software.org series around the country, the foundation hosted an event featuring U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) to draw attention to the fact that software is now an integral part of every industry, not just the software or tech industries. At the event, Software.org unveiled a new report, Every Sector is a Software Sector:  ManufacturingThe report is available here.

I was pleased to sit alongside Autodesk Vice President of Government Affairs David Crane, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center President and CEO Mike Coast, and Diversified Chemical Technologies Inc. Vice President of Operations Fred Sansom as part of a panel discussion on the impact of technology on the workforce. A second panel focused on workforce development and featured local education and labor leaders.

In my remarks, I discussed the opportunity the technology industry has to invest in communities, equip students with 21st century skills, and bring positive change to local economies.  According to Code.org, Michigan currently has over 14,000 open computing jobs, and the average salary for these jobs is over $80,000. There is clearly a need to invest in the workforce and as a company, we are encouraged that Michigan has taken important steps, such as allowing computer science to meet high school graduation requirements.  

Microsoft is committed to expanding access to K-12 computer science education. We are doing that by offering our computer science flagship program, TEALS, in Michigan.  TEALS, which stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, is a program that helps high schools throughout the U.S. build and grow sustainable computer science programs. TEALS pairs trained computer science professionals from across the industry with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science. In Michigan, TEALS has seen so much success that it has expanded from 10 schools in the 2017-2018 school year to 21 schools in the 2018-2019 school year.

The event closed with a terrific demonstration by members of the Black Frogs Robotics Team from Novi High School, Middle School, and Meadows Elementary School.  The students demonstrated a robot they built for competitions and provided a unique perspective on workforce development partnerships.

Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.