Posts Tagged ‘career technical training’

Why Universities are Important to Rebuilding U.S. Manufacturing

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

The fact that more and more manufacturers are returning manufacturing to the U. S. or keeping manufacturing here instead of moving to Mexico or Asia is good news, but on February 23, 2017, President Trump met with two dozen manufacturing CEOs at the White House.

While they “declared their collective commitment to restoring factory jobs lost to foreign competition,” some of the CEOs “suggested that there were still plenty of openings for U.S. factory jobs but too few qualified people to fill them. They urged the White House to support vocational training for the high-tech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require…The jobs are there, but the skills are not,” one executive said during meetings with White House officials that preceded a session with the president.”

“We were challenged by the president to … come up with a program to make sure the American worker is trained for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow,” Reed Cordish, a White House official, said after Thursday’s meetings.”

Training today’s workers in the skills they will need for the jobs of the future in manufacturing is important, but we also need to educate the next generation of manufacturing workers. We need more engineers to rebuild American manufacturing, and universities play a key role in providing this education.

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. David B. Williams, Executive Dean of the Professional Colleges and Dean of The College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, located in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss the role universities are playing in rebuilding manufacturing and educating the next generation of manufacturing workers.

His official biography on the University website states, “Williams is involved in many university-industry economic development partnerships. He serves on the boards of ASM International, the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Advisory Board, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (formerly American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute), Columbus 2020, Metro Early College STEM School, EWI, Ohio Aerospace & Aviation Council, and the Transportation Research Center.”

Dean Williams said, “Ohio State University is a manufacturing R&D and training Powerhouse. Manufacturing is a critical part of the state of Ohio’s economy and accounts for 17 percent of the state’s GPD. It is also the state’s largest industry sector. We have partnered with over two hundred manufacturers in developing and funding research that can be used in their industries. It is a very important part of the college. We use the talent of our professors, graduate, and undergrad students and technology. OSU is committed to innovating applied research for product design, technology commercialization, and manufacturing for industry through its programs.”

Dean Williams mentioned that on October 1, 2016 the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) was designated as a new Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate organization, and that Ohio State’s MEP program will work directly with manufacturers to identify and execute growth strategies. Afterward, I was provided with information that states: “The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) will receive up to $8.6 million in federal, state and industry funding over the next five years to lead a program facilitating growth of small- and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the 15 county central Ohio region. The program is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, with matching funds provided by the Ohio Development Services Agency, which administers operations through seven regional affiliates.”

I found the information about Central Ohio’s manufacturing interesting very interesting: “The central Ohio manufacturing economy is comprised of approximately 3,350 self-identified manufacturing companies across the 15 Central Ohio counties. More than 90 percent of them have 50 or fewer employees. Many small and medium-sized manufacturing companies are aware of the growth challenges they face, but still require assistance to overcome them.” The size of companies is similar to San Diego County, in which 97% have fewer than 50 employees.

Dean Williams told me that the Center’s Executive Director, John Bair, is a successful entrepreneur, not an academic, and added that they had invited him to head up the Center after he had sold his company and semi-retired.”

He added, “We invite manufacturers to bring their problems to us, and then we put together teams of experts to work with them to solve these problems. The company gets to keep any of the Intellectual Property developed in the process of working together.

Dean Williams also said that Ohio State is home to the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, which “serves as a public policy mechanism for manufacturing within the state and nationally that facilitates the use of available technical resources for economic development.” He said, “OMI acts like a clearinghouse for Ohio to provide manufacturers with the tools they need to collaborate with a statewide network of technical resources. Its state and national policy recommendations reflect a thoughtful response to industry problems and issues OMI also engages in outreach programs that support manufacturers—from small to medium-size firms to original equipment manufacturers—by aligning with industries, academic institutions, technology support organizations and government.”

As an example, Dean Williams said, “We have had a long relationship with Honda since they moved to Marysville in 1978, which is about 45 miles northwest of here. About five years ago, we started partnering with Honda to help them develop solutions to some of their manufacturing problems. Their high-end NSX brand is currently made with advanced engineered materials and is produced at only a rate of 7-8 vehicles per day. They want to produce the Accord using the same materials and technology. At the Center, we have put together teams of experts to solve this problem.”

Dean Williams said, “Hundreds of students study abroad for part of the education. Their experience abroad strengthens their performance and helps train the people necessary to maintain and repair the machines. They are still lots of manufacturers in Ohio. We graduate about 2,000 engineers per year and about half of them stay in Ohio. There are 14 engineering colleges in Ohio, and we have the educational base to drive the 21st Century manufacturing.” Since the U.S. is only graduating about 50,000 engineers a year compared to the estimated 500,000 per year in China, Ohio State University is doing more than their fair share.

With regard to the next generation of manufacturing workers, he said, “A big part of the problem is that parents think manufacturing is like what it was in the past, so they don’t want their children to get involved in manufacturing. I was at SpaceX recently and met the chief welding engineer, and she was a graduate of Ohio State with a degree in welding. Young men and women can even get a Masters Degree in ‘joining’ through Ohio State’s online welding engineering master’s program: https://online.osu.edu/program/mswe. This discipline includes a deep understanding of the properties and testing of materials that can be welded.”

He said, “We are part of seven of the National Networks of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMIs). One of them is LIFT, which I looked up and found that it is “an industry-led, government funded consortium. By reimagining processes and procedures, the highly linked and leveraged network is facilitating technology transfer into supply chain companies and empowering the lightweight metals workforce.” Ohio State University, the University of Michigan in Detroit and EWI are the founding members of this NNMI consortium that was established February 25, 2014 following a competitive process led by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I).

Dean Williams stated, “We also partner with the community colleges under an economic grant program to develop the existing workforce through continuing education. Overall, through a variety of programs and camps, we interact with 70-80 high schools on a semi-regular basis. One program is Hometown Ambassadors, where students talk to younger students at their High School alma maters to help them understand the opportunities in manufacturing today.”

Since Dean Williams is on the board of ASM International, it was fitting that Ohio State University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering hosted the ASM Education Foundation’s Materials Camps for two years (2013 and 2015). These one-week training camps provide the opportunity for high-school teachers to work hands-on with metals, ceramics, polymers and composites and learn how to incorporate these activities and demos into their science classes.

The Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) was a partner with ASM International and the ASM Educational Foundation for the 2015 camp. “Curriculum content on the use of lightweight metals and new technologies [were] integrated into the programs at 45 camps around the nation…designed to enrich, stimulate and enhance the technical competence and teaching skills of middle and high school STEM teachers.”

Summer camps for teachers and students are important to attracting the next generation of manufacturing workers. More universities need to get involved with the summer camps and other programs of ASM International, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute “Dream it. Do it” program, and Project Lead the Way.

Advanced Technologies being developed at Carlsbad Gateway Center

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

For the last couple of years, I have been the guest of several economic and Chamber of Commerce organizations to visit their region to tour manufacturing plants and write articles about their region’s industries, but two weeks ago, I was invited to visit an industrial park right in my back yard ? the Carlsbad Gateway Center, a Makers’ place with over 80 businesses in a 16.5 acres business park (Carlsbad is 25 miles north of the City of San Diego).

Courtney Rose of Olive PR introduced me to Toni Adamopoulos, Property Mgr. of the business park. She said, “The tenant mix includes innovation, food production, health and wellness, new technology, in addition to standard and warehouse uses. The park’s small spaces, affordable rents, flexible zoning, and wide array of  allowed permitting makes it a perfect location for small, start up, and incubator businesses to get started on their road to success in a welcoming park-like setting. Besides technology companies, the zoning permits storefront businesses such as a bakery, coffee shop, craft beer, and Kombucha beverage.”

We first visited Emcraft Systems founded by Kent Meyer and colleagues in Moscow, Russia in 2012. Kent said, “We started the company six years ago to design, build, sell, and support ARM Cortex-A and Cortex-M System-On-Modules (SOMs), which are micro controller systems programmed with Linux.” Emcraft is a California LLC headquartered in Carlsbad, and with an engineering office in Moscow, near Moscow State University. Emcraft partners met in Silicon Valley in 1998 while working on a Posix real-time operating system, and the relationship has lasted across several companies and cities. Kent continued, “We have about 6,000 customers in 36 countries, all using our system on modules or Linux/uClinux kits. All of our manufacturing is done in the U.S. We use independent contractors instead of having employees, and we form teams to handle different projects for customers.”

He explained, “We are working to highly automate the effort of embedding Linux and ARM microcontrollers for the coming wave of intelligent systems. Our customers use our system on modules to speed their time to market, and we are optimizing the design and manufacturing processes to meet the pricing needs of the market. We have found a way to be very productive with our team of 20 local and remotely cooperating engineering contractors, with our main office and manufacturing based in the US.”

In addition to Emcraft Systems, Kent is involved in local STEAM education. He has worked with local schools and the Carlsbad Education Foundation (CEF) to teach robotics and programming to youth. CEF is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that provides private support for public education programs throughout the Carlsbad Unified School District. The Foundation is also located in the Carlsbad Gateway Center.

We got into a discussion about attracting the next generation of engineers that is too long to cover in this article, but Meyer called the next generation the “Minecraft” generation because of the technological skills and interest learned through the online collaboration and building in that game. He started as a robotics coach over six years ago when his own kids were doing LEGO robotics with the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for fourth to sixth graders, which was funded by the Carlsbad Ed Foundation. After doing that, he said, “We came up with our own little curriculum where the robotics could be used to teach interested kids in a very productive way, while also trying to find entrepreneurial ways to improve the ratio of students to technology to get as close to a one-to-one ratio with tech as possible.”

He said that they recently developed an “IoT Educational Platform” using Chromebooks, Linux, MQTT and Node-Red to see what kids might come up with when taught IoT concepts. The effort culminated in a presentation to the Carnegie Mellon SATURN conference in San Diego, where the kids showed a highly interactive MQTT platform of over 60 nodes all communicating and collaborating (robots, drones, lights, toys, etc) and connected to Skype and email over Node-Red. The effort won Kent and the team the distinction of “2016 Top Embedded Innovator” by Embedded Computing Design magazine. Click on this link to read the interview with Mr. Meyer after the award.

Next we met with Dr. Robert Boock, CEO/CTO and Co-Founder, of Glucovation. Dr. Boock previously served as the Senior Technical Director of Research and Development at Dexcom where he was responsible for managing the research and development of Dexcom’s CGM membranes and biotechnologies. He was part of the group that developed materials for Dexcom’s SEVEN PLUS. He was a co-inventor of G4 PLATINUM sensor and was a key player in its development and commercialization. He holds more than 44 patents and over 100 pending patents as well as having more than 25 peer reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Boock said, “Our company was formed to develop the most advanced Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that will be affordable to those desiring to monitor their diabetes.” I have several partners, and we are now up to 12 people. They will realize development and work on licensing Agreements. We have signed a deal with a Chinese company and are negotiating a deal with another Chinese company.

He explained, “We are creating a technology that doesn’t require finger sticking. We are trying to develop a simpler but just as accurate method that doesn’t require any action by the user. We want to penetrate the Type II market, which is reaching epidemic proportions. Our product will prevent its escalation. We think that we will have the right product at the right time. Type I is 2% of the population, and Type II has escalated to an estimated 13% of the population. We would rather increase the breadth of our reach rather than make more profit. Outside the U.S., this epidemic of diabetes has the potential to bankrupt countries.”

He continued, “Dexcom and Medtronic are the two biggest players in the continuous monitoring field, which takes a reading every five minutes. They have only penetrated 15% of the Type I population. The future of Type I treatment will be the artificial pancreas (sensors within a pump).

He added, “We can also measure lactate which is a precursor to septic shock, and we could also monitor burning of ketones to know if a person is burning fat when exercising. We are developing a suite of sensors that will monitor five to six of the active metabolites.”

Finally, he said, “We are doing development in cooperation with our licensees, but we are the owner of the core technology. We should be moving into the Chinese market in 2018. The U. S. is more difficult because there is a PMA one-year review cycle after clinical trials, but in China it is only a six-month review cycle. We are doing trials in China, but haven’t started in the U. S. yet.”

Since I am aware of how long it takes to develop any biotech or medical device product before it finally gets to market, I found his last comment very apropos:  “We don’t do it for the money; it’s a calling.”

Our last meeting was with Martin Bouliane, founder and President of R&3D Engineering. He is a mechanical engineer who started his career in 1993 involved in product development. He worked with Cirque du Soleil for a while as a product designer. He was previously the owner of R&3D Engineering in Canada, where the company was primarily focused on consumer product design from 2000-2007. He moved from Quebec, Canada to California in 2007.

Bouliane said, “After moving to California, I worked for two medical device companies before re-launching R&3D Engineering as a U.S. company in 2012. The company was originally focused on medical device design, but some of my customers turned to me to help them get into production. I started working with robots that they purchased from Fanuc. A team from Fanuc visited our company and invited me to become an authorized Fanuc robot integrator. We now focus on custom robotic automation design and fabrication for about 75% of our business, and we have grown to a dozen employees.”

He added, “One of our biggest problems is finding skilled people as we need people who can make things work. We have a customer who makes desalination filters, and we started working with them two years ago and have designed a robot system to move the filters, which were heavy for workers to move around. Some of our local customers have been in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for high volume production of disposables. We are creating a system for one company that dispenses oil, and are building machines to produce the blister pack for the oil.”

He explained, “One of the big reasons for advances in automation is that machine vision has become more and more advanced, so we can program the robots to do inline inspection. We also design and build the peripheral systems to surround the robots. The robot might be only 10% of the system, and we can configure the robot to do multiple tasks. More and more companies are benefiting from integrating robotics and automation into their manufacturing operations.”

This interview was eye opening to me because I had seen very little automation or use of robotics in local companies with which I do business. The main reason is that 97% of San Diego County Advanced Manufacturing businesses are companies with fewer than 50 employees. Another reason is that I do not do business with biotech companies as they do not buy the type of fabrication services I represent. I recruited Mr. Bouliane to speak at our upcoming March Tech San Diego Operations Roundtable event on the subject of the advances in robots, automation, Artificial Intelligence, and machine vision. He will also discuss the future of automation and robotics and give his opinion on whether jobs will be lost or created. There is a wide divergence of opinions on the answer to this question, so it will be interesting to hear his opinion.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

In February 2015, the Brookings Institute released the report, “America’s Advanced Industries:  What they are, where they are, and why they matter.” The authors of the report identified 50 industries that constitute the advanced industries sector, of which 35 are related to manufacturing, 12 to services, and three to energy. The report states, “As of 2013, the nation’s 50 advanced industries…employed 12.3 million U.S. workers. That amounts to about 9 percent of total U.S. employment. And yet, even with this modest employment base, U.S. advanced industries produce $2.7 trillion in value added annually—17 percent of all U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).”

Another benefit of these advanced industries is: “In 2013, the average advanced industries worker earned $90,000 in total compensation, nearly twice as much as the average worker outside of the sector. Over time, absolute earnings in advanced industries grew by 63 percent from 1975 to 2013, after adjusting for inflation.”

Number two of the report’s recommendations for our nation’s private and public sector was:  “Recharge the skills pipeline.” While everyone agrees that filling the pipeline at an early age is essential to increasing the numbers, achieving this goal has been frustrating.

A number of organizations have been working to fill the skills pipeline by developing the next generation of manufacturing workers. For many years, the SME Education Foundation has been committed to advancing the manufacturing industry and stimulating the interest of youth in STEM education and manufacturing careers. “The Foundation invests in students through a broad array of scholarship programs and makes a direct impact on manufacturing education through their Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME®) program. PRIME provides high school students with opportunities to pursue rewarding careers as engineers and technologists; this includes vocations involving mechatronics, welding, CNC programming, robotics, and much more.”

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) “Dream It. Do ItTM” program has helped to expose our youth to the modern manufacturing environment and change the image of manufacturing to one that is “cool” and full of exciting career opportunities.

These newer programs build on the work of the non-profit organization, Project Lead The Way®, which has been working since 1997 to promote STEM curriculum for middle and high school students during the school year, along with their Gateway Academy, which is a one- or two-week day camp for 6th – 8th graders that includes team-building exercises, individual and team projects, and utilizes the latest technology to solve problems.

However, none of the above programs are geared specifically to girls, and it is an even bigger challenge to attract girls and young women to technical careers. Studies have shown that when role models and mentors are provided to girls, they are more likely to follow a similar career path.

Two years ago, I wrote an article about the PLAYBOOK for Teens, created by Cari Lyn Vinci and Carleen MacKay, which is available in print and digital format at Amazon. In the PLAYBOOK, girls can meet fascinating women in STE@M (the “@” stands for “art”) and follow the “plays” of successful young women to help them create their own “Dream Career.” At the end of each story, the PLAYBOOK role models share heart-felt advice for girls to apply to their career path. Then, questions are asked of the reader to help them take the first step to writing their own PLAYBOOK. The PLAYBOOK is dedicated to the smart, talented teenage girls who will become the future business owners and leaders in STE@M industries. The PLAYBOOK can be used as a tool for organization and corporate partners to solve their future talent pool problems.

I recently reconnected with Ms. Vinci and interviewed her about why she created the PLAYBOOK for Teens and what has happened since 2014.

Why did you create the PLAYBOOK?

“When I was a teenager, I never dreamed that I would do some of the work I have done and that I would be able to be successful in several different careers. A common thread in my previous careers was that I spent more than 20 years hiring and writing training programs to help employees reach their goals. My previous business was helping adults figure out their next career, and if they wanted to be a business owner, helping them buy a franchise. This led me to wanting to help students understand that what they study in school and the education they get after high school will shape their choices as adults…in careers and lifestyle. Before I sold my last business, I realized that I wanted to focus on this goal next and collaborated with Carleen McKay to write the PLAYBOOK for Teens. We have packages available to help corporations recruit talent and market their brand. After I sold my business in 2015, I began working full time to achieve my goal.

What did you hope to accomplish?

“I wanted to help connect the dots for kids, so they could make the right choices on what to study to prepare for a career that matched their interests and talents and would provide them the opportunity to live the lifestyle they wanted to live.”

What was your original plan for the PLAYBOOK?

“I wanted to inspire and highlight that there are many paths to success and that going to college for the traditional four years is not the only choice. I wanted to show students that people who look like them are happy and successful in careers and doing wonderful things to make the world a better place.”

Why STE@M instead of STEM?

Ms. Vinci said, “The “@” in STE@M represents the addition of art to the other disciplines, as studies show art training is relevant in STEM subjects.” She emailed me a link to her YouTube video, in which she said that “art and making things are closely related.” She added, “One of my ancestors was Leonardo DaVinci, and he was an artist, sculptor, scientist, and inventor, who used technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Why did you focus on girls?

“We did extensive research before developing the STE@M™ Mentoring Program. Our discussions with middle school girls revealed there are several roadblocks that start to show up in Middle School. Students told us:

  • STEM careers are only for boys
  • STEM subjects are too hard. My teacher says I only need “fill in the blank class” to graduate.
  • There are no girls in the science club
  • I don’t want to be viewed as the “smart one”
  • My friends aren’t interested in STEM
  • My parents don’t talk to me about or can’t afford an education for me beyond high school

Our PLAYBOOK for Teens…STE@M Mentoring Program helps girls catapult those roadblocks by discussing the elephant in the room and helping girls see the truth and the possibilities. The 8th grade girls tell us these conversations are more open and beneficial in a “girls only” environment.

By seeing the necessary building blocks and seeing women who look like them that are happy and successful in STE@M careers, students understand what is possible for them. And, most important, students form a “techie tribe” of support to keep them motivated going forward.

When the program is delivered in 8th grade, students have the opportunity to take appropriate courses in high school based on their “PLAYBOOK for Success” which includes their education goals after high school of community college, a four-year college, military or other education option.

The mentoring program is a way to set the stories in motion by bringing more young women into the lucrative STEM arena. Teens explore STE@M careers, gain insights from the role model stories, journal and research educational options.”

How has your plan evolved in the past two years?

We launched the PLAYBOOK at the Sacramento State and the AT&T non-profit group, Women of AT&T, Expanding Your Horizons event in Sacramento in October 2014 with books for 400 girls. One of the role models in the PLAYBOOK was the Keynote Speaker. Then, I participated on panels for WITI and the Global Women’s Entrepreneur Conference and gave presentations at the AeroSpace Museum for students and JSPAC for California educators. We had a team at the first ever Start Up Weekend for Women in Sacramento. I completed the Entrepreneur Showcase Accelerator program and graduated by pitching to a room full of investors, (think Shark Tank with nice people). The PLAYBOOK for Teens was written up in Huffington Post and featured on News 10.

In February 2015, we got an order for 100 books from the Livermore Expanding Your Horizons event and an order for 200 books from Diablo College. The organizers bought PLAYBOOKs for the parents and I did a presentation for the parents to be able to help their daughters’ research STEM careers using the PLAYBOOK.

When groups of students experience the PLAYBOOK together (with a mentor, teacher or parent), there is energy, commitment and excitement. We now have PLAYBOOK guides for 1-12 Mastermind sessions. The Train the Trainer curriculum is eight sessions, and we have a modified version for parents. Teen Mastermind Members share ideas, research and build confidence as they make decisions and take action towards their goals. Teens discover important success skills for life and career through the Mastermind—while they build a “professional network” of other students who have an interest in STE@M.

We developed an APP to compliment the PLAYBOOK for The Women of AT & T. We have packages available to help corporations recruit talent and market their brand.” Starting with The Women of AT&T at their “Expanding Your Horizon” event and the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) “Tech Trek” event, educators and non-profits have asked to use the PLAYBOOK in a group environment. Educators wanted to use the information in the classroom, so I wrote the PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program.

The Yolo County office of Education hosted the first PLAYBOOK Pilot that started in December 2015 and ran through March 2016 at Lee Middle School in Woodland. After a presentation about the pilot, teachers were asked to recommend 15 girls who have an interest in STE@M and who they thought would benefit from participating in the pilot. We received 54 recommendations within 24 hours, the teachers and counselors and counselors narrowed the number down to 14 participants.

I was very honored to receive the 2016 Yolo County School Board Association’s Yolo County Excellence in Education Award on May 2nd for the PLAYBOOK for Teens STE@M™ Mentoring Program, Our program encourages girls to explore the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering and math.”

What is your current goal for the PLAYBOOK?

“”We are working with the Community College Chancellors office and County Offices of Education to conduct “Train the Trainer” programs for teachers/counselors/parents so that educators can bring the  PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program to Middle School students throughout California. Our next steps include writing a PLAYBOOK for boys and girls and collaborating with other education content providers to extend the program into High School. The Director of Careers at the County Office of Education in Yolo County would like the PLAYBOOK Program in all 11 middle schools.”

I think the comments that Michael Gangitano, counselor and career exploration teacher at Lee Middle School in Woodland, gave at the awards ceremony provides the best opinion of the importance of this program. After he received an award for bringing the innovative program to his campus, he said, “Having worked with middle and high school students for the past 35 years, I am constantly on the lookout for instructional tools that help young people see and plan for their future. PLAYBOOK for Teens is one of those resources that only comes around once in a great while that proves to be a rare gem.

The STE@M™ Mentoring Program arrives in an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, but still lag behind men in STEM career choices. The program aims to disrupt that trend by providing a mentoring program in schools, in after school programs, at youth groups or at home.”

I was pleased to hear from Ms. Vinci that a modified version of the program is now available by webinar for parents and youth leaders and that invitations are being sent out this week to the Greater Sacramento Area Middle School educators and counselors to attend a Professional Development Training on the PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program to be held August 10 or September 2, 2016. She said that Middle School educators and counselors are eligible for a complimentary registration and $250 stipend to attend.

In conclusion, I can’t do better than echo the final comments of Mr. Gangitano, “…let’s touch the lives of middle- and high-school aged girls by providing an inspirational life plan that knows no boundaries. Your students, daughters, their friends and our future deserve no less.”

Innovative Programs Provide Career and Technical Education in High Schools

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center analysis of census data, for the first time, a third of American 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. That share has been slowly edging up from fewer than one-fifth of young adults in the early 1970s to 33 percent this year. What happens to the other two-thirds of young adults? In Germany, they typically hold an occupational certification by the age of 20, but in the United States, non-college grads are often left without marketable skills or qualifications.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”

There are already a number of innovative high schools across the country that are pioneering a model for career and technical education that has little to do with the narrow vocational classes of yesteryear, like wood shop and auto shop. Instead, at Linked Learning schools in California, at the MET schools in Rhode Island, and at Tech Valley High outside Albany, high school students complete internships in real workplaces, exploring fields as diverse as baking, engineering, and biotechnology. Students have the opportunity to check out more than one profession so they can see how adults use their education in the workplace. This helps students stay motivated to earn a degree and introduces them to the behaviors and practices specific to the working world.

California is one of the states that put vocational training back into the curriculum at high schools and community colleges. During his terms as California’s governor from 2003-2010, Arnold Schwarzenegger identified workforce skills, referred to as Career Technical Education (CTE), as a priority for California. The State plan specifies learning goals in 58 career pathways organized around 15 industry sectors. The CTE is delivered primarily through K-12/adult education programs and community college programs and includes the following:

K-12/Adult Programs:

  • Elementary school awareness and middle school introductory CTE programs
  • High school CTE, offered through 1,165 high schools in single courses, in course sequences or through over 300 integrated “learning communities”
  • ROCPs offering career pathways and programs through 74 ROCPs
  • Adult education offered through 361 adult schools and over 1,000 sites
  • Apprenticeship offered through over 200 apprenticeship program and adult schools

Community College

  • Occupational programs offered at all 109 colleges, leading to certificates, associate degrees, and transfer to four-year universities
  • Noncredit instruction for short-term CTE programs offered by 58 colleges
  • Apprenticeship offering over 160 apprenticeship programs at 39 colleges
  • Middle College High Schools (13) and Early College High Schools (19)
  • Tech Prep programs delivered through 80 Tech Prep “consortia,” comprising 109 colleges and their feeder high schools

As a result, California developed “Linked Learning,” which is an approach that is transforming education for California students by integrating rigorous academics with career-based learning and real world workplace experiences. Linked Learning ignites high school students’ passions by creating meaningful learning experiences through career-oriented pathways in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more.

The Linked Learning pathway is defined as:  A multiyear, comprehensive high school program of integrated academic and career technical study that is organized around a broad theme, interest area, or industry sector. Pathways connect learning with students’ interests and career aspirations, preparing them for the full range of post-graduation options including two- and four-year colleges and universities, apprenticeships, formal employment training, and military service.

In 2012, sixty three districts and county offices of education in California committed to making Linked Learning a district-wide improvement strategy and participate in the state Linked Learning Pilot Program, authorized by Assembly Bill 790. The scale of the state Linked Learning Pilot Program will give many more students in more regions around the state access to Linked Learning. When the pilot is fully implemented, Linked Learning will be available to more than one third of the state’s high school students – that’s approximately 700,000 students.

Linked Learning can be implemented through various models such as the California Linked Learning District initiative, which includes nine districts that have already implemented the Linked Learning approach:

  • Antioch USD
  • Long Beach USD
  • Los Angeles USD, Local District 4
  • Montebello USD
  • Oakland USD
  • Pasadena USD
  • Porterville USD
  • Sacramento City USD
  • West Contra Costa USD

Additional models include California Partnership Academies, career academies, National Academy Foundation academies, charter schools, and small-themed schools to name just a few. Today in California, 500 California Partnership Academies are organized around one of the state’s California’s 15 major industry sectors, and another approximately 300 career academies are in operation. Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs) play an important part in many of these academies. In many other high schools, ROCPs are experimenting with innovative approaches to integrate academic and technical education.

While my hometown of San Diego hasn’t implemented the Linked Learning approach, Clairemont High School has an Academy of Business & Technology (AOBT), which is a “school within a school” that focuses on business, computer, and communication skills. The three-year program provides college-prep core classes and business career-technical electives to provide students the technological, financial, and communicative skills necessary to succeed in a college and career environment.

The academy program is committed to providing students with an array of unique educational activities and opportunities that are not typically incorporated into general education courses such as: • Internships in the business field • Mentorships with community partners • Entrepreneurship training • Instruction in finance and economics • Online business simulations • Field trips to businesses and colleges • Guest speakers on various careers • Job interview & resume guidance • Computer skills in Microsoft applications • Public speaking preparation  • Project-based group assignment • Team-building and leadership exercises • Problem-based learning projects • Group simulations.

On a nationwide basis, the non-profit organization Project Lead The Way® (PLTW) has been working since 1997 to promote pre-engineering courses for middle and high school students. PLTW forms partnerships with public schools, higher education institutions, and the private sector to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from our educational system. The PLTW curriculum was first introduced to 12 New York State high schools in the 1997-98 school years. A year later, PLTW field-tested its four unit Middle School Program in three middle schools. Today, there are over 400,000 students enrolled in programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

PLTW has developed innovative and mutually beneficial partnerships with more than 100 prestigious colleges and universities, called University Affiliates, to facilitate the delivery of the PLTW programs. They provide and coordinate activities such as professional development, college-level recognition, program quality initiatives, and statewide/regional support and communication.

PLTW has nearly 100 leading corporate sponsors, including 3M, BAE Systems, Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm, Rockwell Automation, Solar Turbines, and Sprint. Some of non-profit sponsors are the Kauffman Foundation and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation. Corporations and philanthropic organizations generously provide PLTW with:

  • capital resources which it allocates to schools so that they may deliver leading-edge STEM curriculum, technology, materials and equipment to students;
  • access to experienced and talented employees who assist teachers in PLTW classrooms.

Another PLTW program sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation and other organizations is the Gateway Academy, a one- or two-week day camp for 6th – 8th graders that is a project based, hands-on curriculum designed by PLTW to introduce middle school students to the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The camp typically includes team-building exercises, individual and team projects, and utilizes the latest technology to solve problems. The camp is hosted by high schools or middle schools offering PLTW programs, such as Gateway To Technology (GTT) or Pathway To Engineering (PTE).

Campers work together in a fun, exciting environment using leading-edge technologies to sample such disciplines as robotics, aeronautics and eco-design. They brainstorm ideas, solve problems and build bridges, race cars and other working models.

Participation in a Gateway Academy prepares students for the middle school Gateway to Technology pre-engineering curriculum. The PLTW Middle School program is called Gateway To Technology, consisting of nine-week, stand-alone units, which can be implemented in grades six through eight, as determined by each school. The curriculum exposes students to a broad overview of the field of technology. The units are:

•           Design and Modeling

•           The Magic of Electrons

•           The Science of Technology

•           Automation and Robotics

•           Flight and Space

If all 50 states would establish career technical education in their high schools based on the successful PLTW curriculum, we could eliminate the skills shortage of manufacturing workers within the next five to six years and prepare the next generation of manufacturing and biotech workers to ensure that we have enough skilled workers for manufacturers to employ as more and more companies return manufacturing to America from outsourcing offshore and replace the “baby boomers” as they retire over the next 20 years.