Employer Prizes Supply Chain Technician with Strong Troubleshooting Skills   

By Madeline Patton

As a regional maintenance manager for Dollar Tree’s 25 distribution centers in the continental U.S., Phil Gilkes looks for certain skills on resumes, and then listens during interviews for mention of particular technologies.

For example, it piques his interest when supply chain technician applicants respond to his question about their experience with electric motors by talking about variable frequency drives (VFDs) and servo mechanisms. “VFD and servos are extremely important everywhere in our business,” he said, explaining that many technicians struggle to fix this equipment despite their ubiquity and many years of existence.

But the skill that Gilkes considers indispensable—and that he would like technical educators to teach—is logical thinking.

“If there was a magic wand, it would be to instill in technicians the ability to take a logical approach to troubleshooting. If they [technicians] were to ask, you know, just ask in their head, a few questions that start with ‘Well how should this piece of equipment be operating? Why isn’t it behaving that way? And what are the things that could have made it behave that way?’ Continue reading “Employer Prizes Supply Chain Technician with Strong Troubleshooting Skills   “

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Project Hosts Regional Convenings on the Future of Work

By Madeline Patton

Following on the work of its 2019 face-to-face convening in Winston-Salem, NC, in autumn 2020 the Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work project continued its development of regional partnerships with a virtual convening of representatives from Texas Gulf Coast employers, education institutions, and non-profit workforce development organizations.

Principal Investigator Ann-Claire Anderson opened the sessions by explaining that the purpose of the project is “to help colleges work in interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, inter-sector ways with industry and with one another so that we can make sure their program graduates are ready to use technologies that are just a twinkling in someone’s eye right now.”

The Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), which is the project’s host institution, partnered with San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, to convene the three, 90-minute Zoom meetings. Prior to COVID-19 the project had planned an in-person workshop at the college’s 45,000-square foot, waterfront Maritime Technology & Training Center.

Each session concentrated on one of the three categories of cross-cutting skills that the project has identified as essential for technicians to understand in the future.

      • Business Knowledge and Processes (October 30)
      • Advanced Digital Literacy (November 6)
      • Data Knowledge and Analysis (November 13)

Summaries of the featured speakers’ presentations are below. Slides from their presentations as well as information about the instructional materials being developed by Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work, and research reports from various sources are at https://www.preparingtechnicians.org/san-jac-convening

Continue reading “Project Hosts Regional Convenings on the Future of Work”

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Honda Talent Manager Suggests Educators Add IT Skills & Data Analysis to Industrial Maintenance Programs

By Madeline Patton

Scot McLemore, manager of Talent Acquisition and Deployment at American Honda Motor Company, Inc., places technology trends in two categories: 1) technological advances specific to the products being manufactured and 2) Industry 4.0, particularly the internet of things (IoT). To prepare technicians for advancements in both categories, he suggests educators integrate information technology (IT) basics into traditional industrial maintenance programs.

“What’s important is that those graduates have a fundamental understanding of networked systems. What are IP addresses? How do I change an IP address? So as they are plugging their laptops into manufacturing devices, they have a fundamental understanding of how those things work. That’s what I’d like to see happen. I think that’s where programs are going to need to head. Because we talk about ‘Smart Factory’ and the network systems within industrial operations, and that’s where everything is headed.”

The capability of networked equipment to generate data about manufacturing processes and, increasingly, to communicate with other equipment will likely add another dimension to technicians’ work. Continue reading “Honda Talent Manager Suggests Educators Add IT Skills & Data Analysis to Industrial Maintenance Programs”

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Instructional Cards Provide Roadmap to 43 Cross-Disciplinary Skills

Madeline Patton

Instructional cards on 43 crosscutting knowledge and skills—that experts advising the Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work project consider essential for STEM technicians to learn in the next decade—are almost ready for prime time.

With guidance from industry representatives and community college educators, project leaders identified these three broad skill areas as cross-disciplinary and essential for STEM technicians:

      • Data Knowledge and Analysis
      • Advanced Digital Literacy
      • Business Knowledge and Processes

The 43 subtopics were identified in 2019 during a Special Interest Group meeting, which the project convened with industry representatives and leaders of the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program funded by the National Science Foundation. Discussions there focused on what technicians need to know in the next six months to 10 years. Continue reading “Instructional Cards Provide Roadmap to 43 Cross-Disciplinary Skills”

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4 Top-Notch Hacks for Bringing Personality and Productivity to Online Meetings

Dawn Montemayor, Virtual Chief Security Officer, CyberRisk Solutions

Whether you’re running a meeting with high level executives or having a group client meeting there are some simple things you can do to keep online meetings interesting, productive, and even entertaining. While virtual meetings don’t have the same personal touch as face-to-face meetings, there are some huge benefits to them such as flexibility in scheduling, saving time with commuting, and sometimes higher productivity.  When looking to bring some of the softer touches to online meetings, these hacks add a personal flair that are sure to result in higher engagement, and frankly, more fun to your meetings!

1. Keep the meeting size small

In the spirit of keeping things focused, this is always a good way to ensure high engagement.  If you’re trying to accomplish several things in a single meeting, it’s easy for things to get derailed when there are too many attendees.

Continue reading “4 Top-Notch Hacks for Bringing Personality and Productivity to Online Meetings”

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