🍄🐢ESE Newsletter #7: Leveling Up 4.0👨🔧⭐
Greetings, Movers, Shakers, and Button-Mashers in STEM!
In my unique position, I get to see education from all levels. From Claysburg to Pittsburgh, from HVAC to Computer Science, from Agriculture to Maker Space, from… you get the idea.
Here around the Three Rivers, bridges are very common/familiar. What if you could build a bridge that spans the skills gap between your school and high-paying, high-skilled, exciting, technological, in-demand occupations for your students?
In 1870, construction started on the Brooklyn Bridge. John Roebling decided wire rope suspension was the best design to use for his monumental project. You can build the bridge over the skills gap using true industry credentialing from Middle School through Post Secondary.
Now that I’m grown up and back in the city of bridges, I’m realizing just how many bridges I didn’t get to cross.
If my schools would have shown me a clear path from A to B, I would be able to work on my furnace or my electrical panel without hurting myself or making the problem worse! Hell, I’d be able to fix the electronics in my old 96 Lexus after some chipmunks decided wires were an important part of a healthy breakfast. 🥓
Not only would these skills be incredibly useful in my personal life, they could have led me directly to rewarding careers in a huge variety of innovative industries that my teenage mind couldn’t have even fathomed.
In my years of working in education and workforce development, I have never been more excited about industry certifications than I am now. NC3, The National Coalition of Certification Centers, has put together a comprehensive network of industry partners, developing stackable, relevant credentials where students are empowered to develop dynamic careers where they can continue to Level Up!
Highlights From Our Region
Interview with Lisa Marshall from NC3
There is so much momentum with NC3, that I brought in NC3’s favorite program manager, and Pittsburgh native, Lisa Marshall, to tell you about the highlights.
In your time with NC3, how have you seen students’ pathways change?
In the last three years, I have seen certifications become more important to schools and states as they are easily issued as short term training or an introduction to secondary students. We are even starting to have schools issue some of our certifications at the Middle School Level.
The NC3 Festo Industry Certification Program (FiCP) has issued 5961 certifications to students since 2017 and has 899 instructors trained as of December 2021.
As COVID hit, we were able to position our trainings into both virtual and in person, allowing for instructor flexibility.
What type of student is ideal to get involved with various NC3 programs and what are the costs?
The NC3 Festo FiCP Program can be used in the Secondary, Post Secondary, University, and Workforce Development Application. This flexibility allows for an alignment within programs allowing for a pipeline of trained students into the community workforce.
NC3 has the ability to work with groups of schools to make sure dual credit opportunities are available. Currently, there are three levels of certifications developed with two more in development.
As always, schools and students have no charge for electronic flipbooks and testing, making certifications available to every student.
What programs/departments/instructors are a good fit for NC3, and how does NC3 equip instructors with the knowledge to stay at the top of their field?
NC3 Certifications are delivered by Instructors that have attended either a virtual or in-person Train the Trainer (TtT). Once an instructor is trained they can certify as many students as they wish.
NC3 provides the electronic flipbooks, self grades exams, and a PowerPoint presentation as resources. Trainings are held in person 5 times per year, and virtually as needed.
It has been said that there is no innovation without imitation. What approaches have you seen generate the most success in other regions that PA could embrace and improve upon?
In Pennsylvania, we are seeing a lot of movement with NC3 Certifications and recently, NC3 has received the ARM Endorsement. This growth in Pennsylvania has provided students and schools with a roadmap to better training that is consistent across the country.
Tell us what we can expect as you continue to strengthen, adapt and grow this program.
Schools and communities can expect to start to close the skills gap as these programs expand. Industry 4.0 is being implemented in many businesses and the earlier that we can expose students to these concepts the more prepared they will be to tackle the new jobs being developed.
ARM Endorses NC3
As Lisa mentions above, NC3 has been endorsed by the ARM Institute.
I’d be remiss not to mention that Pennsylvania’s Community College of Allegheny County was also endorsed by the ARM Institute in 2021.
"Being an NC3 partner school has been fantastic for CCAC's Mechatronics program. One of the biggest barriers to students earning other industry certifications is the cost of taking exams. NC3 alleviates that completely and assesses their skills through a mix of hands-on demonstration and easy-to-access testing."
Justin Starr, PhD | Endowed Professor of Advanced Technologies, CCAC
ARM has also launched Robotics Career, a website that links Industry, Education, and Students and provides a resource for students to explore various avenues for their future careers. What an incredible resource!
ESE Donates Bionics Kit to Adelphoi
While I’m always happy to visit Adelphoi and check out all of their excellent programs that benefit the community as a whole, I was thrilled to deliver a Festo Bionics Kit to Kerry Ozmelek and her students this week.
Holistic Certification Programs
As Lisa mentioned above, there are currently three levels of certification with two more in development. When I say holistic, I mean the whole game, all the levels.
Level 1 Fundamentals is geared towards CTEs and community colleges. Are you an instructor looking to start a new program to inspire your young adults to get their hands on the controllers?
Level 2 Advanced Mechatronics is the next level. You got the basics down but you’re looking to evolve a program with dynamic career options for your students at the community college or advanced CTE level?
Level 3 Industry 4.0 is where you meet Bowser but never fear, Train-the-Trainer is here as your Power Up! Are you at a four-year university or at an advanced technical program? This is for you!
Level STEM is currently in development. Intro to Mechatronics and Exploring Electricity are available this year. Are you a high school instructor? It’s never too early to get your students’ feet wet.
National CTE Letter of Intent Signing Day, April 14th
Back for its ninth year, NC3’s National Signing Day ceremony is designed to honor students who are entering a technical field and the importance of their career choices.
High school students, parents, instructors, administration, industry partners, potential employers, government officials, and the local media will come together, in-person, at NC3 Leadership Schools to commit to a technical pathway after their high school career.
The ceremonies will take place all across the country at the same date and time while also being simulcast on NC3’s central media hub.
SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Conference, April 6th - 7th
The annual SkillsUSA PA conference will be taking place at Lebanon Valley Exposition Center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This competition aims to test the abilities and knowledge of Pennsylvania’s technical students, the winners of which move on to the national competition.
ESE and Festo will be sponsoring the Mechatronics portion on April 7th and hopefully, I will see some Pennsylvania teams start their journey towards WorldSkills.
Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association Annual Conference, May 4th - 6th
This year’s PWDA conference is looking to be one of the best yet with keynotes by Van Ton-Quinlivan, author of Amazon best seller, WorkforceRx: Agile and Inclusive Strategies for Employers, Educators and Workers in Unsettled Times and Mark C. Perna, author of the award-winning, best-selling, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations. Learn more about the speakers and the workshops here.
Stop by and say hi to me, this isn’t a single-player game!
The Smart Manufacturing Experience, June 7th - 9th
Our friend and Industry 4.0 expert, the enthusiastic Mike Nager, will be speaking on the first day of the event.
His session, Workforce Development and Education in the Industry 4.0 Era: How, Why and Who is Doing it! will explore the importance of industry certifications and industry partnerships in changing the view of manufacturing as dirty, dark, and dangerous to a rewarding career.
Warping from World to World on a hungry dinosaur, I’ll be there, too!
Every month, I scour the resources that I have available for grants that can benefit you. This month, a slew of grants came across my desk. Some exciting announcements don’t even have application deadlines yet which means we can begin to work together right from the start to get you all the gold coins that your program needs.
Launching a new program? Let’s get you a one-time $500,000 grant from a charitable organization. Looking to expand a program and need another $5,000 to get you over the edge? I’ve got tons of options for you there.
Dealing with school budgets can be the worst but that’s not a good reason for the students of our community to not be at the forefront of Industry 4.0. Whatever I can do to help you close the budget gap, I’ll do it.
And no, the princess is not in another castle, she’s working on building the bridge (with some sleek robotic arms, I imagine) over the gender wage gap.