Integrating Software and Machine-Lab Instruction
The Integrating Software and Machine-Lab Instruction project will address the increasing local, regional, and national demand for workers in the manufacturing sector, specifically the need for manufacturing and civil engineering technicians and CNC machine tool programmers. Many of the efforts in higher education that contribute to the skilled manufacturing workforce focus on preparing engineers, with less attention paid to educating the technicians who facilitate the work of engineers. This project will fill that gap by establishing a pathway for high school students to continue a technical education after graduation. The project will address the curricular disconnect between high school and college manufacturing classes, the need for software-based training for high school students, and the need for manufacturing workers to be trained in software-based skills relevant to manufacturing environments. The project will also establish a model for collaboration between high schools and community colleges, whereby faculty at the latter offer college courses on-site at the former. The project management team will promote that collaboration so that other institutions might consider similar partnerships.
The goals of the project are to increase the number of students who matriculate from high school into the computer-aided drafting program, prepare students for the evolving technical workforce, and model how industrial partners contribute to the learning process. Toward these ends, Pittsburgh Technical College (PTC) will partner with Montour High School in the Pittsburgh area. The project will enhance the ability of Montour to deliver technical education to students by providing trained PTC instructors who will mentor Montour students toward completion of extracurricular, manufacturing-based projects as part of an after-school program and extend the existing partnership between PTC and Montour to allow PTC faculty to offer software design courses for concurrent credit to both Montour and PTC students in the state-of-the-art manufacturing laboratories on-site at Montour High School. PTC faculty will also organize and offer workshops for high school teachers in the Pittsburgh area to develop skills working with manufacturing software (such as Inventor and SolidWorks). Additionally, this project will provide professional development training to enable PTC faculty to integrate additional lab-based instruction into PTC courses, support the revision of existing curricula to incorporate the use of new machinery, strengthen partnerships with industry by enhancing the existing CAD Advisory Board and increasing internship opportunities for PTC students, and support the implementation of an annual workforce needs assessment for the Pittsburgh area.