Posts Tagged ‘Stark State College’

What Are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Car

This week, ATETV visited Stark State College where instructors in the Fuel Cell Technology program are working hand-in-hand with local industry to train technicians in this rapidly growing field within the changing automotive industry.

Fuel cell vehicles are powered by hydrogen gas rather than gasoline, which makes for an important advantage in terms of reducing harmful tailpipe emissions as well as reducing the nation’s dependence on oil.

And this is just one new alternative avenue that the automotive industry is taking, according to the ATE Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT). The CAAT is headquartered at Macomb Community College in southeast Michigan, home to some of the largest American automakers, numerous foreign automakers and more than 270 automotive research and development centers.

What, exactly, are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

According to the CAAT, these are the technologies that are helping to shift the transportation economy from petroleum-powered engines to new vehicle propulsion systems. In addition to fuel cell vehicles, these include electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, which operate on ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and liquefield propane gas.

As the ATE notes, with stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards now imposed on new autos (to reduce dependence on oil and improve the nation’s trade balance), the need for alternative technologies will only grow, and as this demand grows, so too will the demand for highly trained technical workers – who are already in short supply.

For an up-close look at how a hybrid electric vehicle gets its power, check out the Virtual HEV Simulator or to learn more about the future of clean energy technologies, take a look at web site of the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation.

There’s no question – it’s a fast-moving industry!

ATETV Episode 42- Community Colleges: A Launching Pad for New Careers

Monday, July 19th, 2010

This week, we look at some of the ways that community colleges can provide students with a career boost – whether they are just starting out in high school or getting a fresh start with a mid-career job transition.

In our first segment, we talk with Dennis Trenger of Stark State Community College, where the college’s Dual Enrollment Program provides students with the opportunity to take college-level classes and pursue an Associate’s degree while still in high school.

“[Stark State] is working a lot more with high school superintendants and curriculum directors,” Dennis explains. “[This way we ensure that] what they’re teaching in high school is in alignment with what students will need for college.”

Student Michael Bucklew took advantage of the Early College Program at Timken High School and recently graduated from Stark State with a degree in Electromechanical Engineering – while still in high school. “The Early College Program is designed so that…the inner city kid can go to college,” Michael explains. And with this educational boost, he adds, students can be well on their way to rewarding careers at an early age.

“[Our] collaborations with middle schools, high schools and colleges are extremely important,” explains Dennis Trenger. “[We provide building blocks] so that students can progress….they don’t have to start all over again [when they’ve finished high school.]

Similarly, as we learn in our second segment, community colleges can help individuals who are looking to make a career change. Steve Hardister is studying Simulation and Game Development at Wake Technical College with the aim of making a job transition from the printing industry to a career in 3D graphics.

“I’d reached a salary cap [working in the printing industry] so I decided to make a transition,” explains Steve. “The advantage of taking courses here at Wake Tech is that you are immersed in the actual modeling and hands-on gaming experience….you do learn some theory, but you also get involved in [hands-on] modeling and animation very quickly.”

While Steve hopes to transition into a career that will enable him to develop simulations for educational purposes or do 3D modeling and animation for the entertainment industry, the skills provided with a degree in Simulation and Game Development can also be applied to such diverse industries as the automotive industry or even NASA.

Finally, in the third segment, we visit Kirkwood Community College, where the Precision Agriculture program is getting a lot of support from industry in today’s rapidly growing marketplace.

“For many years, Precision Agriculture kind of plateaued and farmers didn’t really see the value of this technology,” explains Kirkwood’s Terry Brase. “But with the newest technologies, such as guidance systems, a lot of farmers are excited and it seems like we cannot graduate enough students to meet the field’s demands.”

Kirkwood graduate Dan Bosman agrees. “As technology progresses, there’s going to be a larger need for people with [Precision Agriculture] skills. You could find a job working for a cooperative chemical company, for seed dealers….anybody who uses or is involved in agriculture and uses technology [will need employees with these skills, which go well beyond traditional farming.]”

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 25: Technology and Real-Life Applications

Monday, March 8th, 2010

This week, we look at ways that community colleges are working hand-in-hand with industry to create curriculum that will enable students to “hit the ground running” upon graduation.

In our first segment, we visit Stark State College, where a two-year associate’s degree in fuel cell technology incorporates mathematics, chemisty and physics, as well as specialized fuel cell curriculum, as part of an overall mechnical engineering program.

“We are very tight with business, so we listen very closely to their needs,” explains Stark State’s Dennis Trenger. “Our curriculum provides as broad of a picture as we can paint right now, because this field is constantly changing.”

In addition to the two-year degree program, Stark State also offers students the option of a one-year certificate program in fuel cell technology. “Perhaps students have already been out in the field and have some mechanical engineering skills or even electrical engineering skills,” says Dennis. “With this certificate program they could come back and take our fuel cell courses to actually move them in a little different direction in their careers.”

For student Dena Mayhorn, the certificate program is proving to be exactly the right fit for her needs after 20 years of employment with Acura. “I feel that fuel cell technology is going to be used in many areas, including the automotive industry. This program is a great way to get exposed to some of these new technologies.”

As we see in our second segment, Saddleback College’s partnerships with industry are providing students with state-of-the-art education in rapid manufacturing, the field that enables companies to create three-dimensional computer models of real-world objects in advance of product development.

For the industries of today to be globally competitive, they need people with skills that can drive a product to market in a very short period of time. “Many of today’s companies, particularly the Fortune 50s that are involved with our [Rapid Tech program] are interested in bringing their high-end manufacturing design and tooling back from overseas,” says Saddleback’s Ken Patton. “This is going to create high-wage jobs here in the U.S.”

And graduates of Saddleback’s Rapid Manufacturing program — which provides students with the same experiences they will encounter in the work world — will be ready for these opportunities.

“Our students have to come up with a product that they think is manufacturable and sellable,” explains Saddleback’s Ed Tackett. “They have to conduct market research, develop a business plan, do multiple iterations using the different technologies in the lab and then present their report to an industry panel that we invite in at the end of each semester.”

As this week’s episode illustrates, college programs that partner with industry give students the added benefits of real-life applications, providing them with an important edge they enter today’s competitive job market.