Archive for January, 2012

ATE Programs Are Built On Collaboration

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

By now, you have undoubtedly heard the name Jackie Bray. She is the single Mom from Charlotte, North Carolina that President Obama identified on Tuesday night in his State of the Union Address. Jackie had lost her job as a mechanic. What happened next is a strong example of the partnerships happening between community colleges and industries all around the country. According to President Obama, the company Siemens “opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College” Siemens worked with the college to design courses in laser and robotics training, paid Jackie’s tuition, and hired her to help operate their plant.

Shifts in the economy, changing workforce demands, the growing need to provide widespread access to up to date skills and the unique position of community colleges to meet the demands of their individual regions is what has driven these partnerships with the private sector. And perhaps nowhere have these partnerships been more successful than in the already established practices of Advanced Technological Education programs around the country.

In building a successful partnership, consider the following five factors from the UCLA Community College Review:

1. Recognize a local/regional economic development challenge that calls for collaborative attention

Through regular conversations that identify common interests or community concerns civic leaders, industry representatives and community college administrators can formulate plans to address them. For example, at South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center (SCATE), they facilitate this through the establishment of an Industry Consortium. Established in 1996, this model “provides a framework for colleges and their business/industry partners to work together to ensure a highly skilled technical workforce.”

2. Establish a shared mission and goals

The Laramie County Community College and officials of Wyoming for example share a common goal for increasing business opportunities in their region. On a national level, the Obama administration has set a goal to increase the amount of power generated from the wind to 20% by 2030. In Wyoming, wind reaches 30 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 or 60 mph. It is an ideal place to generate electricity from it and thus it presents a viable industry for the state’s future economy. Local communities therefore are very involved with the Wind Energy industry and working to incorporate it into their workforce. In response, Laramie County Community College in partnership with industry representatives at companies like Duke Energy Generation Services has created a successful, related degree program which was profiled in ATETV Episode 46.

3. Ensure that value is achieved for all partners (including students)

To ensure that a partnership is successful, community colleges working with private industry must identify the benefits up front, provide regular opportunities to reassess them and be flexible enough to change them when industry demands. Because all ATE Centers are created as cooperative efforts in which two-year colleges work with four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, business, industry, and government, they’re organized to function this way from the start. Their programs are all designed to always be mutually beneficial. According to the NSF, these programs include: development of resources, such as high-quality programs and curricula that reflect the modern technological workplace, the training and placement of both mentors and interns, and the on-going evaluation of the center’s materials and services and their impact on student learning, and on employers and the institutions that manage the center.

4. Have strong executive leadership from both the college and industry participants

Every ATE National Center has organizational leadership that works to establish the initial vision, goals, and values that will inform all subsequent decisions. These leaders often include both industry and education professionals. SpaceTec, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerospace Technical Education in Florida, for example, has a “SpaceTec Partners, Inc Board”, which is comprised of representatives that include the President of Brevard Community College as well as the Director of Florida Operations at the Bionetics Corporation.

5. Develop a governance and accountability mechanisms

Advanced Technological Education programs achieve this in many ways. One example is by establishing a National Visiting Committee. At Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FL-ATE), their committee is made up of leaders in industry, education, workforce and economic development from across the nation, with local representation. Committee members meet regularly with Fl-ATE staff to ensure stated goals and objectives are met.

To create a similar partnership in your community to the one mentioned in the State of the Union Address, you have only to look as far as an ATE Center for help. Advanced Technological Education programs have a successful track record with this work that reflects the benefits of such collaborations. It is because of this, that students get exposure to a wide range of technologies and will graduate with the experience they require to make them highly marketable.

What Does Your Web Identity Reveal?

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

web identity lock
When was the last time you completed a Web engine search on your name? It is not something one thinks of doing regularly, yet it could make all the difference in one’s future. This week’s ATETV video reveals the importance of monitoring your online identity when it comes to your professional goals and objectives. There is a large amount of data available out there. Does the information available about you say what you want it to say to a potential employer or current boss? If not, don’t despair. From platforms to strategies, there are ways you can manage the situation.

#1. Take charge of your own identity.
Matt Ivester, an author on helping students manage their online reputations, recommends that everyone get in the habit of thinking carefully from the very beginning about the information he or she is comfortable sharing online. He also recommends conducting inventories or searches on your name and cleaning up the content you can control. Other tips include claiming your name as a .com url and on all the popular sites like Twitter. Matt suggests continually updating your privacy settings and taking advantage of tools like “Google alerts” to notify yourself anytime your name or other specified content appears on the Web.

#2. Use an Online Identity Management Service.
In the article, 25+ Ways to Manage Your Online Identity, the folks at Mashable identify 8 sites created to help in this capacity. ClaimID.com for example consolidates all the information you find on the web and makes it easy to “claim” only the good stuff in order to create a profile you will then want to share with others.

#3. Add Web content to improve your existing reputation.
According to a recent article in Forbes, search engines like Google rank information according to “relevance–how closely it resembles the search term–and popularity–how many other sites are linking to it.” In the event you can’t get the information removed, the authors of this article recommend that you “overwhelm the bad content with the good, so that the embarrassing links are less likely to rank high.” Some ways to do this include: using free software such as Wordpress to create a blog revealing your expertise, writing as a guest author on professional blogs, adding comments to existing web content and creating profiles on sites such as LinkedIn.

#4. Hire a company to manage your reputation.
Mashable lists 5 such groups for your reference. For a monthly fee (starting at $10), Reputation.com, for example scours the Web for content about a client and presents a report. For an extra fee, the client can request that some of the information be removed.

#5. Simplify the information you volunteer.
Web-sites such as Profileomat.com allow you to centralize your different profile content by listing all your personal Websites, Social Networks, Blogs, Contact Info, Photo Albums and other Profiles in one unique profile.

A recent survey conducted by Microsoft of 1200 human relations managers revealed that as many as 70% have rejected job applicants because of information they find online. Recruiters said they search for information about candidates through search engines, on social networking sites, personal Web sites and blogs, gaming sites, online classified sites and through professional background checkers. What are the top things that influence them? Data on Lifestyle, inappropriate written texts and inappropriate photos top the list. These are simple sources to modify. By paying closer attention and using the tools available, you can ensure that your online presence only has a positive impact on your career!

Resource List for Career Exploration

Friday, January 13th, 2012

How do you get high school students interested in a career in science? It all starts with exposure and image. Traditionally, high school is a time when realistic considerations of one’s future first come into play and related choices are made. Developmentally, the cognitive skills of these students are at an intersection where their current abilities, their sense of achievement and their thoughts about their future all come together. If they do not feel immediately successful at a task, they will often quit or move on to something else. Students at this level are busy establishing their identities, integrating the likes and dislikes of others, and weighing the relevance of outside influences. Ultimately, when they emerge from adolescence, they will be asked to make choices for their futures (e.g., choose a college and declare a major or enter the workforce). It is for this reason that it is so important to provide them with as much information about different job opportunities and exposure to careers in the STEM fields as possible. ATETV is one resource for this. Others include:

Career Cornerstone
The Sloan Career Cornerstone website provides some career information, profiles, video clips and advice on educational pathways to specific STEM Careers.

Careers in Welding
An American Welding Society and National Center for Welding Education & Training (Weld-Ed) web portal that profiles careers, offers fun facts and other information about welding, profiles companies and showcases videos.

Discover Engineering
From the site:”Engineering is not science. Engineers generally don’t “do” science. Science is about discovering the natural. Engineering is creating the artificial.” Tune in to the Discover Engineering Web site to learn what engineering is, read about various careers, try cool engineering activities and watch informational videos.

Dream It. Do It.
Dream It. Do It. is a nationwide effort supported by the National Association of Manufacturers, employers within the manufacturing economy and other groups around the country. Their Web-site offers a career toolkit and videos related to high-tech manufacturing jobs.

Engineer Girl
Aimed primarily at middle school girls, the Engineer Girl Web-site has profiles of women in engineering, discusses what classes should be taken in high school and explores engineering careers for women.

Engineer Your Life
The sister site to Engineer Girl, this site is a guide to engineering specifically geared to high school girls. This site is a place where they can go to read about their dream jobs and meet inspiring women.

Engineering K12 Center (American Society for Engineering Education)
eGFI is proudly brought to you by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). This group is committed to promoting and enhancing efforts to improve K-12 STEM and engineering education. On their site you can find out how to become an engineer, read through college information, and check out spotlights of people working in the field.

Gotta Have IT (National Center for Women & Information Technology)
NCWIT has multiple outreach campaigns and career information including Gotta Have IT is an all-in-one computing resource kit designed with educators’ needs in mind. A select set of high-quality posters, computing and IT careers information, digital media and more, the resource kit builds awareness and inspires interest in computing. Gotta Have IT is for all students, but is especially inclusive for girls.

I-SEEK Careers: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
I-SEEK is Minnesota’s career, education and job resource. Here you will find multiple ways to assess your skills and explore related careers, all the relevant information you will need on planning your education and tips on how to find a job.

Internet Science and Technology Fair
From October through February of each year, student teams apply technology to real-world problems when they participate in the ISTF. They form teams and complete online investigations in science, engineering, and other technical fields. Each team then gets the opportunity to work with a practicing scientist or engineer who acts as the team’s on-line technical advisor. The ultimate goal is that through this experience, the students will become more interested in science careers and understand the innovation process.

LifeWorks
An interactive career exploration web site for middle and high school students sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with information on more than 100 medical science and health careers by title, education required, interest area, or median salary. Alternatively, the “Career Finder” can be used to generate a customized list of careers especially suited for users’ skills and interests.

STEM Career
A brokering site that supports STEM advocates by providing information on STEM initiatives, student access, and career readiness.

STEM Career Depot

State-of-the-art career assessment and planning resources for everyone

Texas Instrument Student Zone
Texas Instrument offers STEM career resources for students to explore, STEM degrees, careers, courses, and projects.

The Fun Works
This project is a compilation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career development information for middle school and early high school youth. The goal is to create a comprehensive career development resource that is inviting and engaging the diverse populations of middle and early high school students, that builds on their diverse interests, and draws them into a range of career exploration options and resources.

Virtual Skies
Produced by NASA for use in high schools and flight technology programs, Virtual Skies explores the worlds of aviation technology, air traffic management, and current research.

Vocational Information Center- Manufacturing Career Guide

Explore careers in Manufacturing with the following links to job descriptions, which include information such as daily activities, skill requirements, salary and training required. To learn more about the Manufacturing Industry, follow the related links below the career descriptions section.

Women Tech World
“A national on-line home for women technicians to connect with each other.” For those interested, this site offers information about various technical careers, profiles of current professionals and FAQs for females interested in pursuing STEM careers.

You Can Be Anything
A video and lesson plan using the power of media to give young people, particularly girls and young women, a very positive impression of the career opportunities available in information technology (IT) and science-related fields where technology plays a major role.

Help Wanted: Industrial Maintenance Technicians

Friday, January 6th, 2012

maintenance technician

A recent New York Times article offers some hopeful economic news, reporting that “for the first time in many years, manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy.” According to a December 2011 report from the Institute for Supply Management, manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in six months, and as the New York Times story goes on to say, “When the Labor Department reports December employment numbers on Friday, it is expected that manufacturing companies will have added jobs in two consecutive years. Until last year, there had not been a single year when manufacturing employment rose since 1997.”

And that, in turn, is great news for industrial maintenance technicians – the people who literally keep things running in manufacturing.

Think about it: Without smooth-running machines, there would be no manufacturing industry. And without industrial maintenance technicians, there would be no guarantees that machines would run smoothly. Whether it’s repairing pumps, fine-tuning motors, or doing preventative maintenance on engines and conveyor belts, industrial maintenance technicians play key roles in helping manufacturers gain efficiency and control costs.

If you’re mechanically inclined and enjoy working on a wide variety of different projects or if you’ve ever been called a “jack of all trades,” this might be a career path to consider.

Here’s a look at what’s included in a few of the numerous industrial maintenance training programs available at community colleges around the country:

The Advanced Integrated Technology program that ATETV visited this week at Madisonville Community College in Kentucky offers a specialized Multi-Skilled Industrial Technician training option, leading to an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. The program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for jobs in both the manufacturing and industrial sectors, and provides training that will enable graduates to perform a variety of different tasks previously performed by a number of field-specific technicians.

At Minnesota’s Riverland Community College, the Industrial Maintenance & Mechanics program students receive training in the maintenance and repair of industrial equipment including operation of lathes, mills, drills and small tools used for machine repair. According to the school’s website, programs focus on hydraulics, pneumatics, piping, sheet metal, electrical, bearings and seals, blueprint reading, preventative/predictive maintenance, safety and welding.

At Kilgore College in Texas, the Industrial Maintenance Program offers associate of applied science degrees as well as certificates of completion for careers in the industrial workforce. Launched in August 2008 at the request of local industry, the program today offers training that will lead to careers in large manufacturing companies as well as industrial machinery and maintenance technology.

The Industrial Maintenance Technician Certificate Program at Ohio’s Sinclair Community College provides students with training and skills needed to install, maintain and troubleshoot modern industrial machinery. Based within the college’s Automation and Control Technology Department, the program teaches students to solve practical maintenance problems as well as providing instruction in reading and interpreting mechanical drawings and interpreting maintenance publications.