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Solutions for Hiring Manufacturing Technology Instructors

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Workforce Development

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Karen Wosczyna-Birch CT College of Technology

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Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch is the Executive Director and Principal Investigator of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an National Science Foundation Center of Excellence. She is the state director for the College of Technology, a seamless pathway in technology and engineering from all 12 public community colleges to 8 public and private universities. Dr. Wosczyna-Birch has expertise with both the recruitment and persistence of under represented populations, especially women, to pursue careers in engineering and technological disciplines. She has presented at numerous conferences throughout the United States and was an invited speaker at the international Gender Summit in Belgium in 2016.

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Wendy Robicheau

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Wendy has been Project Manager with the College of Technology – Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing since 2012. In that time she has developed a passion for making middle and high school students, faculty and counselors aware of the educational and career pathways that are possible in STEM and manufacturing through various outreach programs. She enjoys organizing outreach initiatives such as student symposiums, counselor workshops, and any other opportunities to spread the word about career pathways in STEM.

Wendy has published and presented papers for the IEEE Integrated STEM Conference as well as other national conferences through her work with the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program. She has also participated in Women in STEM initiatives such as the CWEALF Girls and STEM Expos as well as their Roundtable Discussion on the Retention and Success of Women in STEM and enjoys participating in this important movement.

Wendy has her Master’s Degree in Student Development in Higher Education at Central Connecticut State University that helps her to create initiatives that expand students’ knowledge of educational and career pathways in STEM. Her focus is on students from populations that are typically underrepresented in STEM fields, including females.

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With an estimated need for 35,000 new skilled workers in Connecticut over the next two decades, there is a high demand for not only students but also instructors in manufacturing technology programs. This Center, a Manufacturing Center of Excellence, was created in 2004 with funding from the National Science Foundation’s DUE - Advanced Technological Education Program to educate manufacturing technicians with necessary skills required by industry. The community colleges under the Center continuously partner with other community colleges, universities, industry, and organizations in New England and at the national and international levels to provide support and expertise to students and educators in engineering and technology programs.

The Center is overseen by a Consortium of all twelve public community colleges in the State, eight public and private universities; technical and comprehensive high schools; and representatives from industry. Eight of the community colleges have new Advanced Manufacturing Centers (AMC) that were recently expanded through a US Department of Labor grant. The Consortium began in 1995 through state legislation to create seamless pathways in engineering and technology from certificates and A.S. degrees to B.S. degrees. The pathways have multiple points of entry and exit for job placement and stackable credentials for degree completion, including national certifications that have increased enrollments and created program stability. The Consortium is led by the Site Coordinators Council that meets monthly and consists of faculty and deans from all member institutions and representatives from industry and government. The Council identifies and reviews new programs based on industry needs. This model led to the NSF funding in 2004 to create the Center and the award of New England Board of Higher Education’s 2012 State Merit Award.

The Center recognized the challenges in finding manufacturing technology instructors. The two main challenges were finding candidates that have the typical higher education credentials needed to teach in the community colleges or finding candidates with degrees but little hands-on experience. The first step taken by the Center was to create a new position that substituted extensive experience within the manufacturing industry for the higher education credentials. For candidates without teaching experience, professional development on classroom management, curriculum development, and other applicable topics for teaching is required.

To address the second challenge in hiring advanced manufacturing instructors stakeholders including educators, employers, and industry associations came together to develop a recruitment campaign. An initial survey was distributed to current and retired manufacturing employees resulting in recommendations for how to recruit more instructors. The stakeholder group decided to take action on several recommendations and implemented over several months resulting in new hires and some unexpected outcomes such as a scholarship program for manufacturing students.

Wosczyna-Birch, K., & Robicheau, W. (2020, June), Solutions for Hiring Manufacturing Technology Instructors Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35199

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