Training Round-Up

Quality education is indiscriminate

Some of this week’s non-Trump news suggests that when it comes to learning something, things like age, skill level, and location don’t have to matter. What truly facilitates the educational tree are resources, cooperation, and a willingness to try new things.

Exhibit A: Adaptability. Being able to adjust to the evolving work environment is more essential now than ever before, because things often change rapidly. Universities and high schools alike are catering to manufacturing trends that involve increased use of automation technologies and the need for multi-faceted skill sets. The result is an evolving field known as mechatronics, which gets a red underline in Microsoft Word because it hasn’t even been officially coined yet.

New York University, which offers advanced degrees in mechatronics, defines the field as “a synergistic integration of mechanical engineering, control theory, computer science, and electronics to manage complexity, uncertainty, and communication in engineered systems”.  Notice the inclusion and necessity of mechanics and engineering in the definition. This conveys the notion that these traditional skill sets, often regarded as antiquated in many fields nowadays, are crucially integrated into new developing fields. Take students at Toronto’s Humber College. As Jonathon Gatehouse of Maclean’s Magazine reported in depth on Monday, students from the college’s electromechanical engineering technology program have a 95 to 98% hire rate upon graduation over the past six years. The program includes automation, welding, wiring and hydraulics, and programming and motion control. But the key element is that the program keeps in step with what the industry is looking for, which is, per Neal Mohammed, Humber’s program coordinator, “students who can come out and connect the dots.”

Hence, cooperation, our Exhibit B. In this context, it means a combination of networking and guidance. People need some assistance with their instruction; a push in the right direction, especially when they are trying something new. Students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska experienced this type of co-op during a career day on November 13th that was attended by over 100 students. The event assists high-school age students and gives them a firsthand look at a variety of professions, from electromechanics and HVACR to building construction, utility line, and wind energy. They get to work with college students in the course of their studies, as well as people who are already in the field, and hear from those who do the hiring once school is done. The school is one of six community colleges in Nebraska to host Construction Career Days this year. An article detailing Northeast CC’s efforts was included in the Norfolk Daily News last month.

Some people don’t need the guidance; they’re doers and can figure things out on their own. Take Ray Parker, a WWII veteran in the UK who started on a teleprinter and now uses Skype every week. He’s a great example of someone who went from the basics of electromechanical machinery to advanced modern technology without resistance, but recognition of the use it could bring. Ray uses Skype to talk to his grandchildren and kids, and credits his adaptability to the days he used the teleprinter as a radio operator in the Royal Signal.

Exhibit C: Resources. It’s obvious that both of the above require ample resources in order to operate at all. This is the key to any successful training program, and it certainly doesn’t come easily. When it does, it’s worth imitating. On Wednesday, Valencia College, outside of Orlando, announced it is one week away from completing work on an advanced manufacturing facility. The 16,000-square foot facility will offer certifications for electromechanics, manufacturing fundamentals, welding, and electronics and robotics technicians. Central Florida currently has over 5,000 open manufacturing jobs, necessitating the resources provided by colleges like Valencia to fill the positions. This story was reported on Tuesday by Rachel Williams of the Orlando Business Journal.

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