ATE 2.0: Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work
The workplace of today is undergoing a major transformation driven by machine learning, artificial intelligence, the internet-of-things, robotics, and systems-integrated process control. NSF's focus on the Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier recognizes that technology advances are changing industries at an unprecedented pace. These technological advances promise benefits to the nation by creating new enterprises, occupations, and opportunities for innovation and global leadership while drastically altering the workplace as we know it. As technology evolves, so will tasks and occupations, creating a demand for an expanding array of knowledge, skills, and services. The demand for positions involving tasks that can be automated will decline and, in some cases, disappear, while entirely new occupations will emerge. This transformation is already affecting America's technicians. This project proposes strategies and collaborative regional activities with industry that will enable the NSF-ATE community to prepare technicians for the changing workplace by transforming technician education at the secondary and post-secondary educational levels.
This project will convene academic partners, industry leaders, and economic development professionals. These individuals will serve as collaborative thought partners in framing, testing, refining, and supporting strategies that transform technician education to assure regional competitiveness in the evolving workplace. Technological education today generally focuses on industry segments and single sectors. Yet, soon technicians will need skill sets that cross industries and support both core and advanced STEM skills. This project will identify key cross-disciplinary and new disciplinary knowledge and skills needed by technicians in industries that are responding to the changing workplace. Regional networks of academic partners will actively collaborate with industry to strengthen ATE efforts to improve technician education across the US. It is expected that bringing the relevant stakeholders together will facilitate the needed paradigm shift in technician education, and coalesce support around industry expectations for technician education.