As a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Center of Excellence and an ATE Regional Center, 360° is an innovative collaboration of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and industry to educate and train workers for dynamic careers in manufacturing and applied engineering. The Center's guiding vision is a 21st Century education system that prepares individuals for rewarding careers in manufacturing and which completely meets the needs of the region's manufacturing employers. A single goal is proposed: to increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of technicians in the field of manufacturing.
To accomplish the goal, 360° proposes three objectives: 1) to enhance the pipeline that prepares students for rigorous manufacturing technician-level programs and entices them to pursue manufacturing careers while implementing strategies to target under-represented student groups; 2) to refine industry-driven curriculum that is relevant to today's and tomorrow's manufacturing industry; and 3) to assess student learning with both an internal and external focus: an internal focus to drive ongoing program improvement, and an external focus to provide accountability for all stakeholders and evidence of student achievement.
The proposed activities include two creative and potentially transformative concepts, one designed to engage girls in STEM learning and one exploring the potential of smart devices to deliver modular curriculum. The comprehensive approach proposed by 360° addresses several areas that will result in improved student learning in technician education programs, including professional development for faculty, integrating 21st Century technology, and strategically engaging employers to drive curriculum refinement.