In today’s VUCA environment characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, explains Mark Maybury, Chief Technology Officer for Stanley Black & Decker, new technicians will need digital skills, “soft” skills, and the ability to be a lifelong learner. New, emerging jobs in a subset some call “gray collar,” require not just hands-on skills and mechanical knowledge but also digital skills in computing, data analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Technicians who learn new knowledge and skills the fastest and contribute the most and collaborate most effectively will be the ones who will succeed. In addition to being able to collaborate, they will need to be good at listening and very good at understanding and empathizing. A combination of “hard” skills and “soft” skills are the key things sought from job candidates in a constantly changing future workplace.
Before the Internet of Things, a technician would hook a digital multimeter up to a sensor, measure the output and evaluate whether equipment is running properly. Now there are smart sensors that have built-in diagnostics built. The technician’s job has expanded beyond taking rudimentary measurements and making a judgment call. Erik Fogleman from ConnStep, a consulting firm that works with Connecticut’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, explains why today’s technicians need to learn how machines talk to each other and to the cloud and edge computing systems. They need to learn communications protocols that dictate how devices talk to each other, how to configure them, and how to troubleshoot them when they are not communicating. It’s not about more intelligent machines replacing technicians, but about machines providing technicians with more accurate “actionable intelligence.”
Marilyn Barger, Executive Director, Florida Advanced Technological Education Center and Richard Gilbert, Professor, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, University of South Florida October 2020 | 00:23:45 Episode 17 Transcript and Show Notes
While nine or ten technologies are often categorized as critical to Industry 4.0, in this episode Marilyn Barger and Richard Gilbert highlight the skills needed for the four that will impact manufacturing technicians over the next four to five years in their daily operational mode: simulation, the industrial internet of things, autonomous robots, and additive/subtractive manufacturing (and associated materials). Technicians working with each of these technologies will need specific skill sets. Which skills are most sought by industry? Are instructors on the same page? Using data gathered from surveys of Florida manufacturers and educators, Barger and Gilbert discovered gaps—sometimes gaps in prioritization of skills that need to be taught, and other times perspective gaps based on vocabulary used by each group to talk about the skills—and also many points of agreement between the two groups.
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.