Jul 9, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
It’s a simple fact. Without a well-trained workforce, any state or city has little chance of attracting or keeping any industry. Unfortunately, most studies show that finding a qualified workforce is still among the greatest challenges for new and expanding manufacturers worldwide. For Georgia, however, the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) are teaming to meet this challenge head on.
GTMI and the TCSG began discussions in February that set the stage for a fruitful partnership to greatly improve Georgia’s manufacturing workforce. Since the initial meeting, the group, led by GTMI’s Coordinator for Education and Workforce Development, John Morehouse, formed the TCSG-GTMI Manufacturing Competitiveness Committee. On May 30th, the committee conducted a workshop to develop potential partnership opportunities between GTMI and the technical colleges. The goal of the workshop was to identify opportunities that:
- improve the competitiveness of Georgia manufacturers by enhancing the skill set and knowledge of the manufacturing workforce to meet the immediate and broad needs of the industry,
- contribute to the missions of the TCSG and GTMI, and
- improve pathways for matriculation of talented TCSG students into Georgia Tech engineering and other STEM-related programs.
The workshop participants identified nine potential collaboration concepts that could move Georgia’s manufacturing workforce to the head of the class:
- The TCSG Scholars Research Internship program would provide advanced manufacturing training for TCSG students in a research environment that looks at real-word technical challenges. The long-term goal would be to provide TCSG participants with a certificate in Research Technology, however, internships could begin as early as the Fall semester of 2013.
- TCSG on-site machine shop and fabrication service center internships would allow TCSG students to make parts for GTMI and Georgia Tech research teams, which offers real-world fabrication experience for TCSG students while allowing Georgia Tech to leverage some of the excellent TCSG facilities.
- The Georgia Teacher Academy of Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) is a TCSG initiative that serves as an alternative certification program for individuals to become educators that have a degree in a field other than education. The partnership between GTMI and TCSG would focus on increasing the quality and number of K-12 teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with individuals who have hands-on manufacturing experience.
- The Certified Industrial Systems Technology Instructor program would be developed and administered by GTMI. The goal is to create a standard for certification of instructors across the technical college system.
- A 3-5 day Mechatronics Symposium for secondary teachers would develop a line of communication between GTMI, TCSG and secondary schools, and it also would improve STEM knowledge and awareness among secondary teachers.
- A short-term TCSG faculty internship program would allow TCSG faculty to earn continuing education credits by working with GTMI research teams on short-term projects.
- Product development and innovation knowledge would be incorporated into engineering technology programs in the electrical, industrial and mechanical fields. This provides additional educational opportunities for local students and builds upon existing TCSG programs.
- Establishing manufacturing-based, cross-functional team projects would support TCSG’s workforce training goal to develop graduates who work successfully in teams and have an understanding of the complete product development process. This program would also produce a highly desirable “jack-of-all-trades” workforce. Teams could be set up as a hypothetical manufacturing businesses with engineers, accountants, business managers, logistics managers, etc., or teams could support an existing business.
- A partnership between GTMI, TCSG, and Georgia’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership would match TCSG students seeking manufacturing internships with manufacturers seeking interns.
Following the May workshop, the committee continued with bi-weekly meetings to formalize plans based on these concepts. Project proposals are currently in development and will be presented to the TCSG State Board. Look for more exciting news on this innovative partnership in the months ahead.