by Eric Lanke
Almost two months ago, NFPA announced that it was seeking community college partners for a proposed Fluid Power and Applied Mechatronics Training Center (FAMTEC). Our objective is to apply for and win funding from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program. The funding would be used to support a nationwide network of technical and community colleges that provide education and produce qualified candidates for the technical workforce needs of the fluid power industry and the many industries it serves. Since the time of that initial announcement, 17 community colleges have submitted letters of support, Alexandria Technical and Community College (our lead FAMTEC education partner) has submitted an application for an NSF planning grant, and initial discussions have been conducted for a comprehensive planning event to be held in the Spring of 2016.
We envision several key elements of our FAMTEC proposal to be discussed at that planning event. First, to increase recruitment of new students into the proposed Center, the proposal would develop a comprehensive high school engagement program, engaging with NFPA industry members to expose students to the exciting and rewarding technical careers available in fluid power. Second, to increase the quantity and quality of available training resources, the proposal would develop advanced fluid power and mechatronic trainers and curriculum at the participating technical and community colleges across the country.
Now, we are seeking industry partners with an interest in participating in the planning event and in the ensuing initiative. The specific requirements for industry participation will be discussed and developed at the planning event. Currently, we believe that for the proposal and resulting Center to be successful, we will need a regionally-diverse group of industry partners that are willing to take on the following responsibilities:
- Serve on a FAMTEC advisory board, providing FAMTEC education partners with information about where our industry is going and the skill and knowledge sets needed for success.
- Go into local high schools to promote the resulting training programs of the regional FAMTEC education partner and careers in the fluid power industry.
- Serve as mentors to the teachers of the high school classrooms engaged in this FAMTEC outreach and education.
- Be readily available to help troubleshoot technical problems or answer industry questions of the students enrolled in training programs at the regional FAMTEC education partner.
- Hire graduates from the training programs of the regional FAMTEC education partner when openings in your organization arise.
For all of these activities, we believe it is appropriate to expect an industrial engineer, with the interest and motivation for engaging with youth, to commit a total of 2-4 weeks per year.
If your company is interested in getting involved, or have any questions, please contact Eric Lanke at 414-778-3351 or email@example.com. So that we can keep the planning process moving forward, we request your response no later than December 18, 2015.
This is a major new initiative for NFPA, but, if successful, it has the potential to profoundly improve the quality of the fluid power technical workforce in the United States.
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