📎🪒ESE Newsletter #9: Mechatronics and MacGyver ⌚📡
A paperclip can be a wonderous thing.
What’s a troubleshooter? A troubleshooter is somebody who solves problems, who takes whatever tools they have available to them, who uses jumper cables, a generator, and 50 cents in quarters to make an arc welder.
Wait, no. That last one is MacGyver.
"MacGyver is kind of a... troubleshooter."
―Pete Thornton in Season Three Episode, Lost Love
Below, in my interview with Kevin Schussler from York County School of Technology, he refers to his program’s motto, “A Mechatronics Technician is a Jack of all Trades, and a Master of Troubleshooting.”
You are training the next generation of MacGyvers.
How can you evaluate the skills of students who are troubleshooters in a meaningful way that is relevant to Industry?
How do you certify a troubleshooter?
To answer those questions, please allow me to introduce to you Kevin Schussler, Professional MacGyver Trainer, aka Mechatronics Instructor. Kevin’s program is the embodiment of everything ESE’s Newsletter has been talking about.
Eight years ago, there was no Mechatronics and Industrial Controls Technology Program at York County School of Technology. Kevin was hired out of Industry to develop a program that taught industrial automation.
Coincidentally, Matt Case joined the ESE team about the same time and has been working closely with Kevin and other local schools.
Through ESE’s industry partners of well-known brands like Festo and Siemens, we were able to provide components and certifications that were recognizable and credible to local Industry. Every year, Kevin continues to listen to Industry to better mold the curriculum to the current marketplace.
ESE can help align your program with true industry needs by using true industry credentials. ESE can source grants and support your proposals. ESE can help you and your colleagues get certified through professional development.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Kevin explains below.
Highlight From Our Region
1. You've developed a robust Mechatronics and Industrial Controls program at the Adult and Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology.
It's a shining example of what's possible. A student can enter this program, and nine months later, as Mechatronics Graduate, Cory Chronister says in the video above, "Some days, I'm an electrician. Some days, I'm a plumber. Some days, I'm a welder. Like I said, a Professional MacGyver."
How are you able to teach these topics in such a meaningful way, turning your students into Professional MacGyvers, in such a condensed timeframe?
Something I have learned over the years, is not to put an undue amount of importance on technical knowledge. Although technical knowledge is important, the higher priority is teaching the student how to problem solve and analytically troubleshoot systems.
Having the ability to solve problems regardless of their complexity I feel is paramount in a Mechatronics environment. That, coupled with as much hands on experience as we can squeeze into our day, on real industrial machines and solutions is a high priority in our education.
I have tried to capture that in our mechatronics motto, “A Mechatronics Technician is a Jack of all Trades, and a Master of Troubleshooting.”
2. You've become a hub, working with the students, workforce development, and partner manufacturers.
What's your sales pitch to maintain and grow the relationship you have with local Industry?
To be honest, my sales pitch is my students. When a student completes this program and goes into industry their skill set and ability to troubleshoot typically speaks for itself.
Most of the time I have Industry coming to me asking how they can support our educational efforts to ensure they can acquire students in the future.
There is a great need for the Mechatronics skill set in central Pennsylvania with the further automation of industry. The Adult and Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology has become known for our Mechatronics program and the capability of the graduating students.
3. To date, how many industry-recognized certifications have you issued?. How helpful are these in proving to local industry that the student has gained proficiency in these areas?
In the 8 years that our Mechatronics and Industrial Controls Technology Program has been running I have issued 226 certifications recognized by industry.
This school year we brought on-line the NC3/Festo Certifications in DC Fundamentals, AC Fundamentals, Sensor Technology Fundamentals, and PLC Fundamentals – AB and issued 49 certifications to our students.
These certifications give weight to the education that we are providing our students.
The Certification tests are designed to ensure that the student must understand the information that they have learned in order to pass the test.
Having certifications that come from recognized industrial leaders gives our students’ an advantage over other candidates in the workplace.
4. What drives you to continue to grow the program?
I enjoy seeing the lives of students change and improve. Giving an individual the tools they need to succeed and have meaningful employment is what drives me.
Every year I try to see how we can get better and give our students more potential.
5. Where would you like to see your program going? What are you working on that's not obvious to us on the surface level?
I would like to see the program double in the amount of students that are able to learn this skill set.
That would mean more faculty and staff to support these efforts. We have been looking into apprenticeships, internships, and partnering with local industry to help their current production employees transition to a mechatronics role.
As technology continues to change we are looking at possibilities of expanding the program to allow more time to be spent with these new technologies.
🌟Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Kevin! Looking forward to the next eight years of growth.🌟
Join Industry experts as they discuss the advantages UR cobots have brought to their facilities.
Although this webinar is happening with such short notice, as long as you register today, you can access it on-demand!
Get inspired and educated about emerging technologies that upskill the workforce, improve quality, and advance the future of manufacturing.
📅 Join John F. Butler from Arconic Corporation for the first morning’s keynote presentation, Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Smart Journey in a 125-Year-Old Company.
📅 Day 2’s keynote is The Digital Twin Acceleration and Institutionalization with John Vickers from NASA.
📅 Closing out the keynotes on Day 3 is Bob McWard with his presentation, Transforming Manufacturing Leveraging Industry 4.0.
I’ll be attending Workforce Development and Education in the Industry 4.0 Era: How, Why and Who is Doing it! on the first day, presented by our friend and Industry 4.0 expert, the enthusiastic Mike Nager.
Say hi if you see me!
Register for Festo Fundamentals of PLC & Sensors – Allen Bradley and Siemens Training here.
And register for Festo Applied PLC – Allen Bradley and Siemens Training here.
2022 PACTA Summer Leadership Conference July 26-28, 2022
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, State College, PA
This year, ESE is sponsoring the keynote speaker, National Superintendent of the Year and author, Dr. Joe Sanfelippo.
Joe started the #1minwalk2work Leadership Challenge. If you can’t make it to the event, or even if you can, check out his inspirational leadership videos to stay geared-up for the last few weeks of the school year and beyond.
Other keynotes include the Director of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education
in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Dr. Lee Burket, and lawyer Andrew M. Goodman to discuss government relations and legislative law.
Accommodations are available at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel at the conference rate of $124 single or double. Reservations must be made by June 24, 2022.
Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) Funding Now Available
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the availability of approximately $34.2 million in a fourth round of grant funding for the WORC Initiative, helping workers obtain new opportunities in rural communities.
Grants will range from $150,000 up to $1.5 million. Proposals are due July 8, 2022.
More information can be found here.
But wait, there’s more! The webinar for prospective applicants for this funding will be happening on May 23, 2022 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. It will discuss several topics including eligibility, grant requirements and allowable activities, performance reporting, and application procedures.
Funding to Expand Digital Access for Education and Government Agencies May 24, 2022 at 2PM EST
Join Grants Office for a webinar on how to utilize remaining stimulus funds and other available federal grants for connectivity projects.