Thought Leadership

Being Future Proof

  Jeremy Bout   |     January 08, 2024 |   7 minute read
Edge Factor Future Skills Toolkit empowers students to explore Tech Ed courses

Are you future proof? As Founder and Producer of Edge Factor and filmmaker, I love visiting communities to tell stories of people who are pushing back the edge of what's possible. The Future Skills Toolkit includes a glimpse of the media rich experience Edge Factor offers and includes content to promote technical education programs that provide students with real skills for the real world.

What does it mean to be future proof? We know the world is changing, and it’s changing fast. With industries working towards sustainable economic growth which can drive progress, they need a future  workforce that is ready to push back the edge of what is possible. Working smarter, not harder. So how do we prepare our youth for the future? At Edge Factor, it all begins with a good story.





Looking back to move forward 


Food preservation was first invented in 1810, by French Confectioner, Nicolas Appert. Nicolas was responding to a challenge put forth by Napoleon, who was looking for a way to better feed his troops. Nicolas responded to the challenge and began the food preservation industry. Since 1978, Lidestri Food and Drink has been working to revolutionize the cooking and bottling of food and beverage. In this segment of “Careers of the Future: Augmented Reality” we hear from Travis Fox, Electronics Control Technician at Lidestri Foods. Travis shares how the industry evolved from small products, paper records and printed charts. Today they are data collecting over servers and using augmented reality to keep production lines running smoothly.


What skills will the future demand? Machines that order their own replacement parts. Machines that can maintain themselves and identify exactly what needs repairing and guide the operator through the exact procedure to fix it. Humans and computer-controlled machines working together in symbiosis.


To say that you want to be future proof is actually a bit of an oxymoron. To actually be future proof, you need to have skills that will help you face the challenges the future will spring on you. Students need some key take-aways and action items to help them face the future confidently, Edge Factor's real-life, high impact stories, told from behind the lens help students to do just that. 


Toni Neary, once said to me, "Hands on, doesn't mean minds off." I saw this was true when we created the film Charging Up. In this film, students meet Tyler, who after being homeless and living in a tent, moved to live with family in New York. There he attended high school in Ulster City, where he was introduced to the manufacturing program. He used his newly learned skills with Mastercam and programming CNC machines, to work with a team, and faced extreme challenges to build a solar car that raced in a student competition. He was given the gift of practical knowledge, knowing how to connect his mind and his hands, and the gift of overcoming adversity and working with a team.


 In a Virtual Workplace Experience, students will visit NUHN Industries, where Mechanical Engineer Jane Schwering shares how rewarding it was for her to see the Lagoon Crawler come to life. The Lagoon Crawler, is a fully remote-controlled machine with the main purpose of mixing and stirring manure. This machine started out as just an idea, and Jane was able to witness this idea come to life before her eyes.


One of the things that gets me excited is to see young people use CAD and robotics and imagine new ways to do things. At some point, most students wonder when they will ever use math, geometry, or science. These questions are answered when people have to innovate and fabricate a real world product like the Lagoon Crawler. 


Beyond the STEAM skills, these students also have to work together with others to make the product come to life. It's team work and united vision that paves the way for them to come up with solutions and create a physical product. In my years of meeting people and telling their stories it amazes me to witness that students powered by technical education are actually changing the world. 


In another film, Answering Africa we see a group of students at Purdue University being given a challenge to build a utility vehicle for a rural community in Cameroon, Africa.  When their pre-design efforts failed, these engineering students had to go back to the drawing board to create an in-field design using locally sourced materials.


There are many pathways to success to be future proof.


Edge Factor’s Learn & Earn Free Programming, Future Skills Toolkit aims to inspire all students to become problem solvers, builders, and thinkers. From students who dream of being an entrepreneur, or who want to make a difference with global issues. To compassionate young men and women seeking to use their talents in healthcare, or others who desire to use their creativity in the arts and entertainment, aerospace, or engineering. The future is for everyone.


Being Future Proof means not being afraid to try, fail and try again and then change your mind.  Being ready to fail gracefully and move on. Learning what you want to do and what you don't want to do. There is no failure in trying new things, to me a tragedy is when you don't try, or when students study something for years only to discover they don't like the work they're doing in their field of study. 


Over the years I have met, worked, toured and filmed with thousands of business leaders,  they've all told me they are looking for team members with life skills. Programs like technical education, apprenticeships, and internships will give students those life skills.  Future proof skills like problem-solving, time management, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking can all be found in the Future Skills Toolkit


This toolkit will be available for FREE until February 29, 2024.


Why Participate in Edge Factor’s Learn & Earn Free Programming?


  • Access & Share FREE Career Media & Activities:

    Every month, Edge Factor will offer free programming that showcases career media related to a specific industry or career. You can share it with students or adult learners (live or virtually) one-on-one, in classrooms and homes, at events, and on social media.

  • Inspire Learners to advance in their Career Journey:

    Featuring cinematic media and interactive activities, the Learn & Earn free programming will inspire learners to explore industries, careers, and training programs.

  • Earn Badges and be entered to win prizes:

    Learners will earn badges that recognize and celebrate their accomplishments, PLUS be entered to win cool prizes!


Questions? Feedback? Contact us.

Email: or message us on the Live Chat. We’d love to hear from you. 


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