This interdisciplinary education initiative is developing and testing a model for rural, regional workforce development that supports small rural manufacturers and enhances their ability to be innovative and agile in the global economy. With renewed emphasis on high tech regional economic development planning and implementation as the road to economic diversity and regional prosperity, the project seeks to address the struggle for rural schools to address the technical needs of the emerging workforce and the challenges for rural areas to retool themselves for the global economy in manufacturing.
The project is (a) creating and documenting a process for establishing and maintaining a rural, regional workforce consortium to support technical education and local manufacturers; (b) piloting the integration of a common manufacturing solid modeling computer-aided-design tool into high schools which encourages innovation and problem solving across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curricula; (c) developing and testing an active mentoring program that provides practical technical skill development in a contextual manner that can be transferred from school to the world of work; and (d) building career pathways related to STEM-rich technical fields. The primary audiences to be affected are secondary school students and secondary school teachers in six, local school districts. They are being supported by a team of education and economic development professionals that includes the college, the University of Idaho, Clearwater Economic Development Association, Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association, Kamiah High School, and Valley Vision.