If you found this article at 11:58pm on February 14th, you’re almost out of time! Stop reading this and call or text your significant other right now!

If you’re reading this before Valentine’s Day, you’ve come to the right place. It can be tough to be away from family and friends on holidays, and if you celebrate Valentine’s Day, that’s no different. But don’t worry, you have plenty of time to do something special to show you care. Most of my suggestions only require a few taps on your phone and a few minutes of planning.

Let’s get into it.

Send An Email Or Text

Sending an email or text is easy and can be done quickly. These aren’t as personal or intimate as some other options, but they can show your loved one that you care.

If you’re feeling fancy, write a short poem. My go-to poem to write is a Haiku. They are short and they don’t need to rhyme, so it’s perfect for me! Here’s a quick explanation on how they work.

Writing a haiku

It’s not silly if it works

Just give it a try

Send A Card

Just about every convenience store in America sells Valentine’s Day cards. I find that Papyrus cards often have my favorite designs.

In addition to writing a note, print a few of your favorite pictures of you and your partner, or a recent picture of yourself on your travels. If your partner is sentimental, they will appreciate being able to display the card and photos on a refrigerator, desk, or nightstand.

Of course, make sure to get it in the mail on time!

Make A Phone Call

Did you know that hearing a loved one’s voice can improve your mental health? Whether it’s a holiday or not, if you need a pick-me-up, a conversation with a loved one can really hit the spot.

If possible, plan a time for the call so you are both free from distractions and can have a nice conversation.

Video Calls

We all have smartphones, tablets, and computers so it’s easy to make a video call. I challenge you to throw on a funny filter to see if you can get a cheap laugh out of your significant other.

Virtual Date

I kind of buried the lead here. If you can block out a few hours, a virtual date is a fantastic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Actually, you can do this any time you’re away from home and want to spend some quality time with your partner.

On a virtual date, you can do most of the things you might do on a stay-at-home date. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cook or order the same meal and eat together. If you’re going for romantic, set the mood! Get dressed up, light a candle, and dim the lights.
  • Make some popcorn and watch a favorite movie or TV show together. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have watch party features built in. And apps like Teams, Zoom, Skype, and Discord allow you to share your screen while on a call.
  • Have a game night. If you both play PC or console games, that’s an option. Otherwise, there are dozens of free games you can play in a browser or on your phone.
  • Go on a walk together. Use your front facing camera while you’re chatting. If you see something interesting flip to the rear camera so you can share the experience. Just be extra careful crossing any roads!

Sending A Gift, Flowers, Or Chocolate

For many, gifting is a love language. Finding the perfect gift can be a great way to show your affection. For Valentine’s Day specifically, companies like 1-800-flowers are a great way to send a holiday gift.

You know your partner best! If they aren’t into flowers and chocolate, just about every retailer out there has online ordering.

Like sending a card, make sure to place your order early so it shows up on time!


If it’s now the wee hours of the morning on February 15th, I hope you were able to get that call or text out on time. If not, there’s always next year!

If you can still make plans for Valentine’s Day, I hope this blog gives you a few ideas. And remember, you can always plan an in-person “make up” date for when you get home! 

If I say, “Close your eyes and imagine an IT person at work,” what do you think of? My mind used to immediately go to towering office buildings, bright server rooms, a massive inventory of computers and peripherals, and seven new ‘high priority’ tickets asking how to connect to the color printer. While this role is still needed in offices across the country, IT professionals are increasingly in demand within manufacturing.

We are living in the age of Industry 4.0, which includes improvements in material science, a robust internet, robotics and automation, and more advanced analytics. Some say we are seeing the first chapters of Industry 5.0 with rapid improvements to Artificial Intelligence and the rise of mass customization in consumer goods.

Below are some of the key roles that are needed as IT and manufacturing converge in Industry 4.0.


There are dozens of roles within engineering that are needed to design and integrate IT infrastructure and modern systems into the manufacturing process. Here are just a few examples.

  • Manufacturing Engineers oversee the integration of robotics into the broader manufacturing process. They optimize workflows, assess production efficiency, and ensure that robotic systems align with overall production goals.
  • Automation Engineers specialize in designing and implementing automated systems, including robotics. They are responsible for selecting appropriate technologies, programming robotic systems, and ensuring a seamless integration with existing manufacturing processes.
  • Robotics Engineers focus specifically on the design, development, and programming of robotic systems. They work on the mechanical, electrical, and software aspects of robots to optimize their performance.
  • Controls Engineers develop the software and algorithms required for the operation of robotic systems. They work on programming languages, simulation, and the user interface to facilitate seamless interaction between humans and robots.

Depending on your local labor market, it may be tough to hire some of these positions, or you may only need these roles during the design and integration process. Our solution can fill these highly skilled and niche roles for as long or as short as you need, with less pressure on your HR and Recruiting teams. FlexTrades engineers can even be deployed to document and improve work instructions and Standard Operating Procedures, which can free up in-house engineers to carry on with new projects.

Project Managers

When a company makes a large capital investment in new technology, they use Project Managers to oversee the planning, execution, and completion of the project. Project Managers coordinate efforts between various teams (including IT), manage resources, and ensure projects are delivered on time.

Network and Database Administrators

Network Administrators manage and maintain the organization’s computer networks, ensuring seamless connectivity and communication between different systems and departments.

Database Administrators manage the databases that store critical manufacturing data and processes. They ensure data integrity, security, and optimal performance.

Maintenance Technicians

Once robots are introduced in a production facility, someone needs to take care of them. This is the role of Maintenance Technicians and Robotics Technicians. They will perform routine maintenance, troubleshoot issues, and repair robotic systems. They ensure the continuous functionality of automated equipment.

Programming Technicians

Experienced programmers are indispensable on the production floor. They can write programs for new parts, debug and troubleshoot existing programs, and find efficiencies to reduce cycle times. A great programmer can upskill their peers, reduce programing times and improve production cycle times.


System Analysts determine the information needs of the manufacturing process and recommend IT solutions. Once automations and robots are operational, heaps of data points are generated to report on their performance. Data Analysts use those data points to analyze performance metrics and identify opportunities for improvements in the process.


Now, if I say again, “Close your eyes and imagine an IT person at work,” what do you think of? As I learn more about modern manufacturing, I think about the networking and IT infrastructure that must be in place for everything to work seamlessly.

It’s important to remember that robots are not coming for your jobs. Skilled employees will always be necessary on the front lines of American manufacturing. Modern technology, like robotics and automation, creates millions of jobs designing, programing, and maintaining these production facilities. If you are looking for work in Engineering, Automation & Robotics, or anything else in manufacturing, check out our job boards!

If you’re an employer, check out our engineering solutions to see how we can help you move further into Industry 4.0. 

In today’s manufacturing world, flexibility is key. Production demands can fluctuate rapidly, and companies need to be able to scale their workforce up or down quickly and efficiently. That’s where temporary workforce solutions come in. But not all solutions are created equal. FlexTrades is a different breed of service, unlike traditional staffing, which provides a unique value proposition to its clients.

What is FlexTrades?

FlexTrades is a national workforce solution company that specializes in providing skilled tradespeople to manufacturers. The company has a network of over 10,000 skilled technicians across the country, with expertise in a wide range of areas, including welding, machining, maintenance, and engineering. FlexTrades works with clients in a variety of industries including machinery and heavy equipment, aerospace and aviation, food production, FMCG, electronics, and more.

What Makes FlexTrades Different?

There are several things that make FlexTrades different from its competitors. First, FlexTrades has a rigorous screening process for its technicians. All technicians are required to pass a comprehensive skills and character interview with our team of technical recruiters. This ensures that clients get workers with the qualifications and experience needed for a successful deployment.

Second, FlexTrades offers a flexible project model. Clients can extend their FlexTrades project timeline and/or add additional skillsets to their projects. FlexTrades’ deep bench of skilled tradespeople and national travel model provide the agility and flexibility clients need to meet their production demands.

Third, FlexTrades provides customized support to its clients through a dedicated Client Solutions Manager. FlexTrades has a team who works closely with clients to understand their needs and ensure that they are getting the right tradespeople for the job.

Fourth, FlexTrades coordinates and manages all technicians while deployed onsite at a client facility. This relieves clients of any administrative duties and responsibilities that come from temporarily increasing their workforce headcount.

Lastly, FlexTrades is committed to safety. The company has a comprehensive safety program and department dedicated to instilling the Safety First mindset in every technician on the team.

How FlexTrades Can Help Your Business

If you are a manufacturer looking for a flexible and reliable project-based workforce solution, FlexTrades is a great option. The company’s rigorous screening process, flexible model, client and technician support, and commitment to safety make it a different breed of temporary workforce solution.

Explore some of the benefits of using FlexTrades further:

  • Get the qualified and experienced tradespeople you need.
  • Meet your production demands quickly and efficiently.

If you are interested in learning more about FlexTrades, connect with the Client Solutions Team today. 

Throughout history, the manufacturing landscape has been dramatically reshaped by groundbreaking designs, inventions and products. At the heart of these transformative contributions are the ingenious, hard-working creators and the visionary leaders propelling these innovations forward. As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s an honor to spotlight the remarkable black inventors and leaders whose ingenuity has left an indelible mark on manufacturing.

charles richard patterson

Charles Richard Patterson (1833 – 1910) was a trailblazer as the founder of C.R. Patterson & Sons, the first and only African American owned and operated automobile company, which began as a humble carriage-making enterprise.

DEZU4iiXsAAc1vp (1)

Elijah J. McCoy (1844 – 1929) revolutionized railway maintenance with his invention of an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engine parts, giving birth to the expression “The Real McCoy” for his unmatched quality.

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848 – 1928) was instrumental in the development of electric light, inventing the carbon filament for incandescent bulbs in 1881 and playing a pivotal role in the urban installation of electric lighting. His contributions extended to assisting in the patenting of the telephone and inventing the first railroad car bathroom and an early version of air conditioning.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852 – 1889) significantly impacted the shoemaking industry with his shoe lasting machine, which dramatically increased production efficiency by automating the attachment of soles to uppers.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver (1864 – 1943) is renowned for his agricultural innovations, developing techniques to rejuvenate soils depleted by cotton and promoting crop rotation methods alongside pioneering industrial applications for alternative crops.

Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919), after developing a unique line of African American hair products to address her own hair loss, established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories, becoming one of the first self-made millionaire women in America.

Charles W. “C.W.” Chapelle

Charles W. “C.W.” Chapelle (1872 – 1941), the first head electrician of US Steel and an aviation enthusiast, made history with his award-winning airplane design at the 1911 First Industrial Airplane Show and played a key role in founding the first African American airplane company.

Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones (1893 – 1961) is celebrated for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks and railroad cars, revolutionizing the transport of perishable goods and laying the foundation for Thermo-King Corp.

Otis Frank Boykin (1)

Otis Frank Boykin (1920 – 1982) made significant advancements in electrical resistor technology used in a myriad of electronic devices, alongside inventing a chemical air filter and a burglar-proof cash register.

Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold (1951 – ), as the CEO of Eaton Corporation, emphasizes diversity, equality, and innovation within the manufacturing sector and corporate leadership.

Marian Rogers Croak

Marian Rogers Croak (1955 – ) has transformed communication with her development of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a pivotal technology that has reshaped global communication networks.

Mark E. Dean

Mark E. Dean (1957 – ) has been a cornerstone in computer technology, contributing to the invention of the color PC monitor and the gigahertz chip, holding three of IBM’s original nine patents.

Alicia Boler Davis

Alicia Boler Davis (1972 – ) broke new ground as the first black woman to serve as a Plant Manager at General Motors and continues to lead in senior executive roles, currently with Amazon.

Shaping the Future

These individuals are not just inventors and leaders; they are pioneers who have paved the way for future generations, demonstrating that innovation knows no bounds. Their legacies remind us of the power of creativity, perseverance and leadership in driving forward the manufacturing industry and beyond.

Check out the following link to learn more about Black History Month, written by Daryl Michael Scott, a Professor of History at Howard University and the Vice President of Program at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Want more history? Read our post on Women’s History Month!