Improving Mechatronics Technician Training for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry
The Central Workforce Region of Virginia is experiencing a shortage of adequately trained manufacturing technicians due to the growing demand for workers coupled with growing rate of retirements. This region is also exceptional in that local manufacturers employ Rockwell Automation-based systems at a higher rate than nearby regions. Through this project, Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) will increase the rigor and competencies of manufacturing technician education in mechatronics with an emphasis on programmable logic controllers (PLCs). This project will focus on augmenting the Mechatronics AAS degree program at CVCC with Rockwell Automation PLC Maintainer Certifications. These certifications are industry recognized and valued by employers. Through targeted outreach, the mechatronics program will work closely with regional secondary school systems and local advanced manufacturing industries to provide middle-school students with the opportunity to directly experience mechatronics and advanced manufacturing. This will build a pipeline to the college to develop and train the workers needed to sustain and grow the sector.
This project will support mechatronics technician training for the growing advanced manufacturing industry by 1) enhancing course content and technical experiences for students, 2) providing comprehensive professional development for technician educators, and 3) developing educational pathways to support student recruitment, retention, and completion from middle school to college. New equipment and revised courses will strengthen the students' career pathway from the career studies certificate to the associate degree and into the workforce. Faculty will receive professional development in areas that directly impact technician education by providing the training necessary to offer certification testing on the purchased training equipment. Industry employers will engage with the program and its students in an integrated advisory role. Middle school students and college students will be engaged in collaborative learning opportunities to attract new talent and sustain the mechatronics technician pipeline through summer camp opportunities and joint problem-based learning projects.