Posts Tagged ‘Sinclair Community College’

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.

ATETV Episode 48: Working Hand in Hand with Industry

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

This week, we learn how internship programs can help pave the way to future careers, and explore an Energy Education program that is paving the way to a cleaner, more efficient environment.

In our first segment, we visit Florence-Darlington Technical College, where students are offered the opportunity to pursue internships with companies in their chosen technology fields. The end result: Students have an added advantage once they graduate, and in many cases, may even be offered full-time employment with the companies for which they interned!

“We give [Florence-Darlington students] an opportunity to come here and work hand in hand with our technicians in our process area to actually put in projects,” explains employer John Kimbrough of Wellman, Inc. “Then, if they actually perform well, if they have the skills and if they’re team players, we consider them for job openings [once they graduate.]”

It’s a similar story at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, where Jill Heiden relies on interns from Florence-Darlington to fulfill numerous key job responsibilities. “The interns have their own jobs, they are hands-on,” she notes. “They have a mentor that they can shadow, but they are actually working in technical jobs on the floor with the already employed technicians.” The benefit of this arrangement, she adds, is that students get to learn what real life is about.

It’s what Elaine Craft of the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE)Center of Excellence calls a “grow your own” approach. “Industries actually get these students [as employees] early on in the program, and the students can grow up with the industry as they complete their two-year associate degrees.” As a result, she adds, students develop skills that can be put to immediate use once they enter the workplace.

Notes Wellman’s John Kimbrough, “Hopefully, [our student interns] will take a job with us [when they graduate] but even if they don’t, when they go on to the real world, they will have these hands-on skills in which they’ve actually worked in a manufacturing environment, and that looks good on somebody’s resume.”

And, no matter what workplace that may be, there will likely be an emphasis on energy efficiency. In this week’s second segment, we visit with students and educators at Sinclair Community College’s Center for Energy Education.

Before students pursue a career in any type of alternative or renewable energy field, they need to understand the basics of energy efficiency, according to Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert.

“Students learn how to analyze utility data, learn what portion of their natural gas is for hot water, what is for heating purposes, and then apply the same principles to electricity,” Bob explains. “We [have students] look at the envelope, look at the mechanical systems, and look at the operational procedures. Then they come up with an energy management plan.” Through this plan, students are actually able to quantify savings in dollars and cents, and from there, translate savings into CO2 emissions.

By studying energy codes, simulation software, code compliance software — coupled with hands-on experience in the field — Sinclair students become fully prepared to conduct energy audits and implement their broad-based energy efficiency education in the real world, particularly in industry, which adds up to a more sustainable future for our country.

Or as student Howard Ducker puts it, “Now when I leave a room, I turn off the lights.”

ATETV Episode 46: Creating Marketable Skills for Cutting-Edge Industries

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

This week, we look at a program that is enabling students to bring their creativity to life, see how older and younger students can learn from one another, and hear from employers how Wind Energy Technology careers are soaring.

In our first segment, we talk with Brian Simpson, a student in the Simulation and Game Development Program at Wake Technical Community College. Brian’s lifelong love of video games is translating into a marketable skill as he studies Video Game Design. “It’s great to actually be doing [video game design] instead of just imagining doing it,” says Brian. “It’s like bringing your imagination to life and it’s just an amazing experience.” Incorporating math skills, programming, graphic design and, yes, imagination, Video Game Design is much more than fun and games — for students like Brian, it’s a promising future.

In our second segment, we visit Sinclair Community College where students in the Green Building Technology program are also embarking on fascinating future careers — some for the second time. As Sinclair’s Bob Gilbert tells us, “We’ve had some people who’ve been [working] in the building industry for a number of years, but when they find out how much they can benefit from weatherization programs [and other new building programs] they’re amazed.”

As a result, the program at Sinclair is made up of a mix of younger and older students who not only learn from Bob and other instructors, but also learn from one another. As 58-year-old student Howard Drucker explains, “I found my experience with the younger students very enjoyable — they’re bright young, excited about getting started. So it’s been very enjoyable, almost inspiring at times.” Adds Bob Gilbert, “The older people bring life experience to the classroom and that adds a lot…it makes things very realistic.”

Finally, in our third segment, we look at another relationship that’s working extremely well, this time between students in the Wind Energy Technology Program at Laramie Community College and area Wind Energy employers in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“Our relationship with Laramie County Community College began during the construction of our facility,” explains Tom Bailey of Duke Energy Generation Services. “Wind energy is an important career track because of climate change regulations. People are more interested in renewable energy, and [wind energy] is a cutting-edge sort of field.”

It’s also a field full of opportunity, according to employer Mark Guilloz of enXco. “In the last four years or so, we’ve seen exponential growth throughout the industry,” says Mark. “It’s growing so rapidly that the manpower, the knowledge, the expertise that we’re reaching for is very difficult to find.”

But, as both Mark and Tom note, their companies’ close relationships with Laramie have enabled them to find top-notch students with up-to-date knowledge of today’s Wind Energy industry — and given students a chance to literally climb to new heights.

ATETV Episode 44: Impacting the Future, One Experience at a Time

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

This week, we visit a community college that has designed its Civil Engineering program with direct input from local industry, and talk with a student who is paying attention to energy conservation in his classroom work – and in his personal life.

In our first segment, we talk with Tressa Gardner of the South Carolina ATE Center, who describes the relationship between Florence-Darlington Technical College and the region’s area industries. It turns out that it’s mutually beneficial.

“We have great industry in this area, and it’s very important that we supply these [businesses] with the workers that they need,” says Tressa. As a result of this forward-thinking approach, Florence-Darlington graduates have many job opportunities to consider, be it as an engineering technician for a welding and cutting products company, a career in automation or a future as an “E and I” tech working in electrical and instrumentation technology.

As Tressa explains, a big reason why these job opportunities are available is the “hands-on” training that Florence-Darlington’s engineering students receive.

“The Pythagorean Theorem makes no sense if you just [work on it all day] without any real-life context,” she says. But, she adds, Florence-Darlington students discover that if they wind up working in power distribution for Progress Energy company, they’ll actually use the Pythagorean Theorem every day.

In our second segment, we learn that a similar “reality check” is in place at Sinclair Community College, where Civil Architectural Technology student Senya Oji-Njideka is applying new energy conservation skills to his classroom work, as well as to his own future.

“I have gotten more interested in energy analysis and energy conservation since I’ve been at Sinclair,” Senya explains. “Energy analysis is taking into account all the resources that you’re using at [one] time…and then making sure that you’re using what you need and only what you need, and not wasting at all.”

Senya finds that this mindset is not only good for his education, it’s just plain good. “I constantly find myself making people aware of how they’re using energy and how much it really costs, not just to their pocketbook, but also to the environment…. This is the future of technology. Everybody on the planet is going to have to [start conserving]. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

ATETV Episode 43: Collaboration, Conservation and the Cutting Edge

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

This week, we learn how companies look to graduates to meet workforce demands, learn about the latest trends in energy conservation and talk with a student who is returning to school to study laser technology.

In our first segment, we visit Springfield Technical Community College, where Computer Technology students are taking classes side-by-side with professionals from area computer companies.

Says Scott Edwards of Juniper Networks, “The collaboration between Juniper and local colleges [enables students to] access the same information [being accessed by professionals] which helps them prepare for the same types of jobs.”

And as Springfield’s Gordon Snyder notes, “What we’re doing is exposing companies to the community college…We have made good connections with these companies and they realize what great places community colleges are. [In fact, community colleges] are now probably the first place they come when want to hire somebody new.”

While industry is becoming more aware of the programs offered at Springfield Technical College, students, teachers and consumers alike are becoming more aware of the high costs of energy – and ways to conserve – as we learn in our second segment.

As Mike Traen of Certified Energy Raters explains, green building verifications and performance testing for Energy Star compliance and rating is a great movement.

“It’s a way to be environmentally responsible,” says Mike. “It amounts to not using more than you have to, not disposing of more than you have to. It’s a good thing for a home owner because you’re going to save money in the process.” Mike predicts that the field of Energy Efficiency and Compliance will expand and that the need for qualified energy technicians, too, will increase.

And, it’s a similar message in our third segment, which takes us to Central Carolina Community College’s Laser and Photonics Program, where student and former truck driver Andy Dawson is making a change, and embarking on an exciting, fast-paced career.

“I’m loving every minute of the program so far,” says Andy. “I mean any time I get something in my hands and I’m having to do the work on it and being able to break that laser down [and figure out what’s wrong with it and how to best fix it] to get it working correctly [I get excited]” he adds. “For just two years’ investment, you can’t go wrong in a community college program, “ he notes.

ATETV Episode 35: On the Pulse of the Future

Monday, May 17th, 2010

This week, we visit a community college that is working hand-in-hand with the fuel cell industry to prepare students for jobs of the future, hear from a professional firefighter who has returned to school to study Civil Architectural Technology and visit an ROV underwater robotics competition that is helping students and employers to connect with one another.

In our first segment, we visit Stark State College, where a state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Technology program is providing employers with student employees trained in the industry’s most up-to-date technologies and mechanics.

“We’re in the process of developing technology that will eventually be designed into a product — the stationary solid oxide fuel cell system,” explains Mark Fleiner of Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems, which has its headquarters on the Stark State campus. “[The Stark State Fuel Cell Technology] program gives us the opportunity to work [directly] with students, to get students into our business to see how things work in our company and to see if there’s a good fit between the student and our business needs.”

And the college’s focused approach of aligning educational curriculum with industry needs is beneficial for students and employees alike. “External partnerships for colleges are critical because it lets us keep our hand on the pulse of what’s happening in our fields,” says Stark State’s Dennis Trenger. “Without [our] business partners coming back and saying, ‘Here are the skills that we need for future employees,’ we’d be shooting in the dark.”

In our second segment, Sinclair Community College student Jon Flynn describes his return to the college’s Civil Architectural Technology Program — after 15 years in the firefighting field. “In 1993, I believe it was, I started this program at Sinclair,” Jon explains. But a switch to a Fire Science Technology major led Jon to a career as a professional firefighter. Now, he says, he’s back to where he started so that he’ll have another career to fall back on.

And, as he describes, today’s Civil Architectural Technology is a whole new field compared with 15 years ago. “The technology has come so far compared to when I was initially in the program,” he explains. “There was no such thing as green building and not nearly as much emphasis on saving energy.”

Today’s focus on sustainable buildings has Jon excited about his future. “I’ve always dreamed of being able to design a building for a client that was completely self-sufficient, [making use of] solar power, wind power [or] geothermal technology. This might be a little bit down the road, but we are certainly going in the right direction.”

Finally, in our third segment, we talk with participants at the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education Center) International ROV competition. “ROV stands for remotely operated vehicle,” explains Jill Zande of the MATE Center. And, through this annual underwater robotics competition, students are not only developing problem-solving, critical-thinking and team-work skills, they are learning that there are a sea of opportunities open to Marine Technology students.

“One of the things that this contest does is open [students’] eyes to disciplines [that they might not otherwise have considered]” explains Fritz Stahr of the University of Washington. “You know, we have students who come here from an engineering [curriculum] and now they’re beginning to see something of oceanography. We have others who are coming from a science background and they begin to realize that there are a lot of challenges in engineering. The career paths available are varied and they can range from marine policy to actual engineering design and from the building of new instrument systems to the actual role of the research scientist, using ROVs to gather data about how the oceans work.”

As today’s episode demonstrated, when it comes to emerging technologies, community colleges really do have their hands on the pulse of the future — where a sea of opportunities await.

ATETV Episode 33: New Industries Mean New Opportunities

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

This week, we look at two up-and-coming industries – Wind Energy Technology and Architectural Technology – and take another look at internships and their key role in workforce development.

In our first segment, we talk with Mark Guilloz, operational manager for two wind power plants in Northeast Colorado operated by enXco Service Corporation, who explains that today’s need for skilled wind technicians is phenomenal. “The [wind power] industry is growing so rapidly that the manpower, the knowledge, the expertise that we’re reaching out for is very difficult to find.”

What does it take to make it in the field of Wind Energy? Well, a sense of adventure and a love of heights doesn’t hurt, according to Mark. “As a [Wind Energy] technician, you’re not just going to be in a controlled environment,” he explains. “In many cases…you’re going to kind of be in a pretzel sort of position, maybe upside down or sideways, and you may be sitting out on the ledge of a turbine…over 200 feet in the air with the wind blowing and maybe a little bit of snow.”

Now that’s a career that’s really soaring!

But, if you like to keep your feet planted on the ground, you might be better suited to the field of Architectural Technology, which, as we learn in Segment 2, is also undergoing rapid growth, the result of a current demand for green buildings.

Christina Sullenberger is enrolled in the Architectural Technologies program at Sinclair Community College. As she tells us, “Everything now is becoming green, so I’m continuing my education and furthering my knowledge and going into a field that’s up-and-coming.” With her newfound knowledge in energy analysis and other skills necessary for today’s emphasis on green buildings, Christina hopes that this experience will be a stepping stone on a path to a four-year college degree and a career as a licensed architect helping to ensure that both new and existing homes become more energy efficient.

Finally, in Segment 3, we learn how community college internships are preparing today’s students for the workforce of tomorrow. “Our primary mission is workforce development,” explains Robert Grove of Wake Technical Community College. “So we work very closely with industry representatives, and advisory committees [to develop curriculum].” But also key are the internships and co-op work experiences that enable Wake Forest students to get OJT – on-the-job training.

“To get out there and to get your hands in and work with people that are actually doing what you’re being trained to do is invaluable,” adds Robert. “You can’t replace that kind of experience. It’s fundamentally key to being successful.”

Home Energy Audits: Greening Your Home, and Saving You Money

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

In the past couple episodes, we’ve focused on home energy audits as a growing source of good, green jobs that can’t be outsourced. Today we’re going to take a look at the process from the homeowner’s perspective, explaining what goes into an energy audit and what actions homeowners can take to save energy and money.

According to Sinclair Community College Professor Robert Gilbert (featured in this week’s episode), a home energy audit looks at four different aspects of a home’s energy efficiency. First, technicians determine how well-insulated the building’s walls, ceilings, windows and foundation are. Gilbert says that up to 60% of a home’s heating and cooling costs are due to “air infiltration.” By blowing air in through the doorway of the house and measuring the pressure inside, technicians can measure how airtight a home is and where the leaks are.

Second, technicians test the mechanical parts of the house: the heating and cooling systems, major appliances like washers and dryers, and even the type of lightbulbs a home has. But just as important as what stuff a home has is how the folks inside use it, which is the third part of the audit. Technicians look at when residents are home, what temperature the thermostat is set to and even how often the TV is on. Finally, technicians will look at utility bills to see exactly how much fuel and electricity the home is using.

Gilbert credits tax rebates and incentive programs offered by utility companies and state and Federal governments for the increased demand for audits — and, by extension, for audit technicians. Another factor is that more homeowners are realizing that small steps can lead to big savings on their utility bills.

A home energy audit is a great way to get your home to peak efficiency, but you don’t have to wait to start saving. To save electricity, Gilbert suggests replacing incandescent light bulbs with florescent models; turning off lights in unoccupied rooms; plugging TVs and other electronics into power strips, and turning them off when not in use; and unplugging items like cell phone chargers, which drain electricity even when not in use.

To save on heating and cooling, Gilbert suggests turning down the thermostat at night and when you aren’t home; programmable thermostats are particularly handy for this. And if you’re up for a do-it-yourself project, caulking and foaming over areas where air is leaking out of the house can result in big savings.

You can find more helpful tips and information on energy audits online. Energy Star, the energy efficiency program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, has a page where you can find a professional energy audit company near you and compare your energy usage to that of other homes in your area.

Thanks to Professor Gilbert for his help this week and for his practical energy-saving tips!

ATETV Episode 22: More on Green Jobs and Industry Partnerships; Plus, Computer Careers

Monday, February 15th, 2010

This week, we’re continuing with a couple of topics from recent weeks: industry partnerships and green jobs. We’re also profiling a young father who’s fitting in his own homework in computer security between helping his kids with theirs.

First, we head to Bristol Community College to profile the partnership between the ATE program there and the local environmental and mechanical engineering industries. At Bristol, that partnership translates to input on curriculum via an industrial advisory board, and access to valuable internships like the one student Mike Poitras completed at a desalination plant.

Mike’s position at the plant is the kind of job that can’t be outsourced. The same goes for the energy technician jobs that Sinclair Community College is training its students to fill. The demand for these positions making buildings more energy efficient already outstrips the supply of workers, and the gap is widening. “The problem is not going to be a market” for these service, predicts Mike Train of Certified Energy Raters LLC. “It’s going to be having boots on the ground to service that market.”

One reason energy conservation is becoming a hot topic is the amount of electricity that our computers and other digital devices are consuming. At Springfield Technical Community College, student Francisco Nofal studying computer security, another hot career in our increasingly wired world. Francisco enrolled at STCC after a layoff. Now he’s balancing his studies with being a husband and father. “I get homework, they get homework, so I can’t do mine when I get home. I gotta wait, help them with theirs.”

Hopefully for Francisco all that homework will pay off, for him and his kids. Tune in next week for three more ATE success stories like his!

Growing Green Jobs

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Last week’s State of the Union address was all about jobs, and one promising avenue for job growth the President highlighted is the new green economy.

In his speech, Obama framed the need to invest in those types of jobs in terms of keeping pace with international competitors like China, Germany and India. “These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.”

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and is making gains in other green fields as well.

If America wants to keep up, ATE programs at community colleges will be vital to training new green workers and retraining older workers for new green jobs. Perhaps that’s why President Obama repeated his call for more funding for community colleges in his speech last week, calling them “a career pathway for the children of many working families.”

There are two sides to greening the economy: investing in new renewable energy projects or cleaner transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail; and improving energy efficiency in order to better conserve heat and electricity. We saw an example of each of these types of green jobs in this week’s episode. At Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, students are learning how to operate and maintain the wind turbines that are popping up across the West.

Meanwhile, at Sinclair Community College, students are working with local affordable housing groups to conduct green energy audits and weatherize homes. And both of these types of jobs need to be done here, in America; they can’t be sent overseas.

The hope is that last year’s unprecedented federal investment in basic scientific research will seed a new green manufacturing sector, building advanced batteries and solar cells. That will mean new green jobs for laid-off manufacturing workers, but first they’ll be need to be retrained. And ATE programs at community colleges across the country will be on the front lines of that training.

Click here to read about some of the green job titles expected to see the biggest growth in the coming years.