Last Friday, Fremont celebrated National Manufacturing Day by inviting students and jobseekers to attend 11 manufacturing facility tours across the City. We sat down with Stephen Garcia, President, Bay Area Circuits, a printed circuit board manufacturer, to debrief on the day and hear a manufacturer’s perspective on the importance of Manufacturing Day. Read on to learn how companies like Bay Area Circuits are challenging old-school perceptions of manufacturing and showing people, especially younger generations, that making things is cool again.

1. Tell us a little about Bay Area Circuits.

Bay Area Circuits is a printed circuit board manufacturer providing quick-turn prototype services (design, fabrication, and assembly) to a wide variety of customers — from large original equipment manufacturers to small hardware startups and individual hobbyists. With a new facility and recent investments in cutting-edge equipment and processes, our business model emphasizes quick-turn prototype manufacturing, meaning we can manufacture and deliver product in as little as 24 hours. The company was founded by my grandfather, Lawrence Nobriga, in 1975, and we’re proud to have recently celebrated our 40th anniversary.

2. How long has Bay Area Circuits been in Fremont? What are some of the reasons that Bay Area Circuits chose Fremont as its home?

We relocated to Fremont in 2013 after having spent the previous 38 years in Redwood City. Relocating to Fremont provided several advantages, including the ability to expand capacity in a modern facility, better access to an available workforce, and proximity to our primary customer base. And, we were really pleased to find a business environment in Fremont that welcomes manufacturing with open arms.

3. Bay Area Circuits has been part of Fremont’s Manufacturing Day celebration for three years now. Why does your company choose to participate in Fremont’s Manufacturing Day every year?

As manufacturers, one of our biggest challenges is addressing the gap in the availability of skilled labor, which I believe is partially caused by a lack of understanding of today’s highly technical manufacturing environment. For this reason, supporting education has always been important to us, and opening our doors on Manufacturing Day to students exploring engineering careers is a logical way to support that initiative.

4. Did you meet any interesting students during the facility tour on Manufacturing Day?

For this year’s event, we hosted a group of students from local Ohlone College who participate in the Ohlone Math Gateway program. The program also offers engineering courses — including one on Electric Circuit Analysis. I’m always energized by their enthusiasm and surprised by their technical aptitude!

5. What did students find most interesting during the Manufacturing Day tour?

They were really amazed at the number of processes involved in the manufacturing process, but seemed to be particularly interested in the automated equipment we utilize, especially the 3D printer-like machine and flying probe test machines that we demonstrated for them.

6. What role do you think the younger generation plays in the future of manufacturing?

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of manufacturing to a healthy economy, so it’s critical that we, as manufacturers, continue to dispel the notion that manufacturing means working on an assembly line. Instead, manufacturing jobs require high-tech, highly skilled workers. The younger generation should certainly consider manufacturing when looking for a high-paying career.