This ATE Regional Center of Excellence is based on a solid foundation of past work and successful multi-institution collaboration. The Center builds on proven programs, curriculum, and partnerships, and takes them to the next level. The Center's guiding vision is a 21st Century education system that prepares individuals to participate fully in 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 young women in STEM learning and one exploring the potential of smart devices to deliver modularized 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. The Center advances discovery and understanding through assessment of student learning outcomes and a careful evaluation of what makes each program effective in preparing students for manufacturing careers. Dissemination of findings will have immediate impact for Minnesota, be expanded to North Dakota in years 3 and 4, and ultimately benefit manufacturing education on a national scale. Four activities focus on engaging underrepresented groups (American Indians, young women, veterans, and rural students) in order to increase diversity in the workforce. The infrastructure for networks and partnerships is enhanced through development of the 360° Community of Practice, building on existing relationships and expanding to include additional public and private partners. Center goals and activities are a response to real and immediate needs in Minnesota's workforce. On the site, visitors will find out more information about the regional center, career pathway information and advice, interview tips, job listings, access to skills assessment with iSeek, and information for industry representatives about how 360° can benefit business.
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