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Evergreen Valley College Debuts New Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program

Moni2By Maniphone Dickerson, Ph.D., Division Dean of Business & Workforce Development, EVC

Industry 4.0 has introduced two significant challenges for the STEM education sector. The first is the tightening of technology cycles and the second is the increasing demand for technicians and technologists. These phenomena are straining the traditional approach to educating and training the next generation workforce. Through a partnership between Evergreen Valley College, NextFlex, the National Science Foundation, and local advanced manufacturing companies we are trailblazing a new approach to overcoming these hurdles. Using an innovative education and training model, we are increasing industry involvement in higher education curriculum development and delivery coupled with improved industry and higher education involvement in student outreach and recruitment.

Until now, our nation’s workforce development model has relied entirely on the education system to prepare students for the workforce. However, over the last decade, new technologies and manufacturing processes have led to faster technology cycles and the exponential growth of technician and technologist jobs. These positions do not require the deep foundation provided by a bachelor’s degree, but still demand significant specialized training in the basic knowledge and skills required to prototype, test, assemble, and manufacture products. Tackling this need has largely fallen to our nation’s community college system. These two-year institutions are perfectly positioned to address the technician gap with high-impact, agile, and affordable education, but are facing increasing difficulty in recruiting students and maintaining curriculum that reflects current industry need.

Evergreen Valley College is proud to be leading the charge in creating a new approach to education and recruitment of students for both the STEM sector and community colleges. Through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education award, Evergreen Valley College, NextFlex, and local industry are developing an Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) program, a two-year technician program with curriculum co-developed and co-delivered by industry partners.

The program will launch this spring in partnership with local industry. Cobham, DuPont, and Flex Interconnect Technologies are teaching the pilot courses, and Jabil has led course creation for classes to be piloted in the fall of 2021. The curriculum is comprised of stackable certificates, which, when taken with additional General Education classes, can roll up into an Associates of Science degree. The curriculum centers on applied and experiential learning techniques and culminates with a formal work-based, for-credit learning experience to seamlessly transition students to employment.

To recruit students into the AMT program, Evergreen Valley College is leveraging NextFlex’s FlexFactor program, a project-based recruitment program that is anchored in immersive industry experiences where students are oriented on aligned education pathways that lead to future employment. Since FlexFactor overlays existing high school classes, it is an effective tool to engage with diverse groups of students who may be unaware of advanced manufacturing careers and affordable education options.

By beginning with recruitment, providing robust education and training, and extending through work-based learning the AMT program spans the range of activities required to build a robust talent pipeline for the STEM sector. This innovative, multi-sector approach to talent creation benefits all involved: Students are familiarized with advanced technologies in a context that appeals to them and are introduced to the opportunity that the STEM-sector provides; Evergreen Valley College deepens partnerships with industry and acquires the resources required to build valuable programs, and Industry develops a new generation of innovators with the skills needed to thrive in a tech-based economy. We are proud to partner with this coalition of future-thinking companies, non-profits, and school districts to pioneer this cutting-edge approach to workforce development.

For more information, contact NextFlex at info@nextflex.us.

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