People with Disabilities Achieving Career Employment (PACE)
The Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and the Hiram G. Andrews Vocational Training Center are partnering to conduct an NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project entitled People with Disabilities Achieving Career Employment (PACE). PACE will extend advanced manufacturing certificate training and employment opportunities to veterans and people with disabilities. The project focuses on individuals with orthopedic and cognitive impairments. This project has the potential to provide significant societal benefits by creating opportunities for veterans and people with disabilities to become full participants in the advanced manufacturing educational and workplace arenas. Advanced manufacturing is an area of critical importance to the national economy. Currently, advanced manufacturing industries are reporting difficulties in finding entry-level employees with appropriate skills. Veterans and people with disabilities have the potential to obtain meaningful employment in advanced manufacturing, but the lack of training programs and workplace facilities that are accommodating to veterans and people with disabilities keep this from being a reality. The contribution of veterans and people with disabilities to the advanced manufacturing workforce benefits not only those individuals, but also society as a whole.
The PACE program will work with a broad range of industry, academic and advocacy experts to design, develop, and deliver didactic and experiential training curricula tailored to veterans and people with disabilities in the advanced manufacturing field. The project will provide guidance to academic institutions and industry on making their advanced manufacturing programs accommodating to veterans and people with disabilities. Project goals include delivering an advanced manufacturing curriculum that is integrated into for-credit certificate programs. The certificates are: National Institute for Metalworking Skill (NIMS) Certified Machining Level 1, Machining Level 2, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Additive Manufacturing Certificate. PACE will also design and disseminate professional development materials and guidelines for education and industry for inclusion of and accommodations of veterans and people with disabilities in advanced manufacturing.
Findings from PACE will contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge in the areas of educational curricula, engineering education, engineering public policy, and inclusiveness. The project evaluation work includes design of a criteria-based evaluation instrument to review the program characteristics developed through this work. In addition, stakeholder perceptions will be compiled including analysis of the qualitative data gathered from partners and participants. Evaluation design includes the development of survey instruments of potential broad use by similar programs. Findings regarding formative data will serve to document the need for program modifications and provide insights to help disseminate the project innovations to other interested groups.