What are the cross-cutting skills–the skills vital for all future STEM technicians, regardless of discipline, to practice in order to be successful? Matthew Carter from Cook Medical, a manufacturing company, shares that it is vitally important for technicians to be able to gather data, present information, and balance the technical aspects of a project with its business considerations as well as perform what are considered more traditional technical skills. They also must be able to work in cross-functional teams. He notes that medical device manufacturing is not different from other industries in at least one regard: as quality demands continue to increase, the consistency of the product is very important. In this episode, we talk about how the data, the technology, and the people work together like gears interacting with one another to maintain process efficiency and product quality.
Jill Zande, Associate Director and ROV Competition Coordinator for the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center at Monterey Peninsula College
May 2020 | 00:25:21
Episode 15 Transcript and Show Notes
Even in the best times, it can be a challenge keeping employers engaged and interested in supporting your college technical programs. We know that it is important for programs to maintain strong industry partnerships, but what does that look like in a rapidly changing business and education environment? For starters, it means cultivating a champion within companies, a champion who shares information about your program and its graduates and who can envision the return on investment from engagement. That ROI might be as simple as increased community visibility from event sponsorship or as multifaceted as future employee recruitment. In this episode, Jill Zande, Associate Director at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center in Monterey, California examines how professional societies—in this case the Marine Technology Society—and companies can be champions for educational initiatives. She also discusses how sponsoring the ROV (underwater remotely operated vehicle) Competition World Championship each year provides both types of ROI.
David Ayala, Western Region Buildings and Systems Engineering Training Manager for UPS
April 2020 | 00:18:56
As the Western Region Buildings and Systems Engineering Training Manager at UPS, David Ayala has seen the company go from humans manually sorting packages by zip code—way back in 1999—to today’s increasingly automated processes. Moving from standard motor control to PLCs, camera scanners, and mechanical devices has increased efficiency, leading to increased capacity and the need to double their staff of automation technicians and maintenance mechanics in some cases. New hires need to be multi-skilled, with troubleshooting, mechanical, and welding experience preferred. Most importantly, they need to be able to perform reliably under pressure in an industry where time is a make-or-break factor. Predictive maintenance is one of the keys to successful operations at UPS.
UPS is a trademark of the United Parcel Service of America, Inc. and is used with the permission of the owner.
Ben Moses, Director, Manufacturing Technology and Stephen LaMarca, Technology Analyst, Association for Manufacturing Technology
In this episode, we check in on the evolution of those buzzword technologies driving manufacturing: automation, 5G, big data, AI, cybersecurity, machine learning and cobots. All of these technologies impact technician training. What do they really need to know? Will every technician need a cobot assigned to them? Our guests from the Association for Manufacturing Technology help us compare the hype behind some technologies with the timeline for thorough development and implementation. In other words, they help us understand technology in the service of the problem to be solved, not just technology for technology’s sake.
For example, it is getting progressively easier to teach robots how to do simple tasks and those tasks can be built upon. Add data collection from the manufacturing process, correlate that data to errors, and then you potentially have information that allows tools to make decisions about the process. With AI:
“We have our current working definition of a device that perceives this environment and takes action, then maximize the chance of success at some goal. So it’s an agent working for you, right? So you’ve trained this agent to do something for you and that requires your basic math software and domain knowledge to solve the very, very specific goal. So when we hear the thoughts of everyone should be doing AI, hold on a second. Yeah, let’s pump the brakes a little bit. What is the true need and then is AI an actual tool to help you solve that need?”
What are employers looking for in a technician candidate? And how do they find those new hires? One approach, used at BRP, Inc., involves a partnership between several companies and Gateway Technical College. Together they’ve developed a one-year Motorcycle, Marine, and Outdoor Power Product program that feeds the local technician pipeline. As with most employers, what they’re looking for is hands-on experience but also a willingness to learn. Do they bring the immediate skills that they need in order to be successful in a role? Do they bring the ability and knowledge to transform and come on that journey with as the company changes?