Throughout the first 50 years of our history, Ivy Tech Community
College Fort Wayne has been a champion of improving the local economy and
staying at the forefront of technological advances.
In the early 1980s, Fort Wayne had been hit by a recession
and was in rough shape. During the fall of 1982, International Harvester, Fort
Wayne’s biggest employer, announced it was shutting down its heavy truck
operations, devastating the local economy.
Three years later, GM announced it would be opening a new
light truck assembly plant in Fort Wayne, giving the economy a much needed
On May 19, 1985, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne invited the new assembly plant manager, James G. Falloon, to speak at the College’s 15th annual Commencement. Falloon spoke with graduates about the changing economic landscape and how using advanced machinery and technology are creating a new industrial revolution.
The following passage
is a portion of Falloon’s address, which was reprinted with the author’s
permission in the Summer 1985 issue of the College’s community-focused
A New Industrial
By James G. Falloon
May 19, 1985
Countless opportunities are being generated today by the
dramatic changes taking place in our society, especially in the industrial
world that serves us. In effect, we’re on the brink of a new industrial age, an
age when a major change is coming to industry, a change so great that it may
indeed deserve the name “Revolution: the new industrial revolution.”
This revolution I speak of will be a revolution in industrial
machines and processes. It will be an age when machines take on more and more
of the hardest work, an age when increasingly sophisticated machines will
perform more varied tasks with greater speed and precision than ever before
dreamed possible, an age that belong to man’s mind, not his muscle.
For one thing, the new age will improve the quality of
everything we build. With more sophisticated exacting machines in use, we will
build with fewer human errors. We will build closer to engineering
specifications. We will build trucks, cars and other products better than
they’ve ever been built before.
In short, the most significant mark of this new age will be
a profound increase in product quality, and the same tools that give us better
quality will also help improve productivity. Quality and productivity are
natural partners. When we build quality into product, rather than trying to
inspect in it after the fact, productivity improves proportionately and as
productivity goes up, costs naturally enough go down.
With lower costs, our industries will be far more
competitive and able to compete in the world market. This in itself will
generate even more opportunities as we learn to make better use of our
resources. But there is still one other effect, one perhaps even more important
than the rest. In the new industrial environment, the character of work itself
The age when workers toiled in monotonous repetition will
come to an end. People who once put only their backs into their work will asked
to be put their minds into the job. People will not be asked to behave like
machines or extensions of machines. They will be asked to watch over the
behavior of machines. They will be provided with the opportunity to think
With stronger industries, there will be a greater degree of
job security, and an increased emphasis on training and education. Our
educational systems will be challenged to keep abreast of the ever increasing
In this new age, in which machines will see through steel,
and lasers will measure space the eyes cannot discern, the human qualities of the
worker will come to the fore. There will be more machines working, it is true. But
at the same time, there will be more people thinking. There will be less tedium.
There will be increasingly better, safer working conditions. There will be the
potential for more cooperative, harmonious relations. Work itself will become
more meaningful, more satisfying, and the human element of the industrial
enterprise will be increasingly more important.
Perhaps that statement is surprising, coming in the middle
of a discussion on the new industrial revolution. But even in the more highly
mechanized world of the future, it is still people who will run the machines,
people who will program the computers, people who will do the strategic
planning, and people who will oversee the service of customers.
So the ability to manage people and to get them working
together will be assigned an even higher priority than it is today. In the
future, even more than we will need integrated circuits, we will need
innovative individuals. More than parts to make our products, we will need
responsible participants to get involved.
The same is true of the new plant we are building here in
Fort Wayne. Even though the technology will be gone will go beyond any facility
we have built to date, its success will still be with its people. Our strength
will come from people like yourselves, who have taken the opportunity to learn
and want to participate in the challenge the future holds.
Remember life is not a spectator sport; it’s a participation
sport. You don’t sit on the stands or stand in the sidelines and watch life go
by. You get in and live life. You get active. You contribute and accomplish and
work in order to be successful.