Instrumentation Training for Hands-On Learning in the Engineering Technician Classroom
There is a nationwide shortage of skilled technicians in the manufacturing industry. In northern Colorado, advanced manufacturing companies have specifically noted a critical need for industrial maintenance workers. To help fill this need, Front Range Community College will design and implement a new associate degree program that will prepare students to be industrial maintenance technicians. The project team will work in partnership with local manufacturing companies in northern Colorado to develop courses for the program. These courses will include active learning and skills-building instruction on new training equipment to provide industry-relevant learning experiences for students. This innovative degree program will provide students with options of certificates that can be stacked toward the associate degree as part of an approach for career advancement. The program will also provide the opportunity for students to obtain industry-recognized certifications. The certifications will help demonstrate students' readiness for employment. As a result, the project has the potential to increase the number of skilled industrial maintenance technicians available to meet workforce needs.
This project will seek to: 1) provide enhanced learning experiences for engineering technology students that respond to critical needs of the Northern Colorado advanced manufacturing industry; and 2) grow and diversify the regional industrial maintenance technician workforce. The project team will design a new Associate of Applied Science degree in automation and engineering technology, in close collaboration with subject matter experts in local manufacturing industries. The new curriculum will use state-of-the-art industrial training equipment to incorporate hands-on experiences that help students develop needed skills, including skills in electrical circuits and instrumentation, industrial motors and controls, basic machining, fluid power, and mechanical systems. The two-year course of study will include two stackable certificates. At the end of the first year in the program, students will earn a certificate in Industrial Maintenance. During the second year, students will be able to earn an Industrial Automation and Robotics certificate, as well as complete the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Certification tests for Process Control Systems (Duty Area 7). Student performance on the NIMS testing will be used to study the effects of the new curriculum on student learning outcomes. The innovative structuring of the course sequences will enable students to gain marketable skills after only one year and will help provide a shortened path to an entry-level job for students who may have financial obstacles. This flexible structuring will also be used to attract, recruit, and retain more students from underserved and underrepresented populations within the region. The content in the new degree program, the project results, and best practices will be disseminated in the local community, regionally, and nationally.