Volume 23, No. 2, 2nd Quarter, 2022
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From the Director

Craig McAtee, NCATC CEO and Executive Director

September 2023

NCATC Friends and Colleagues,

As you al know - economic, health, and geopolitical trends have created conflicting outcomes for labor markets globally in 2023. On an individual level, labor-market outcomes are also diverging, as workers with only basic education and women face lower employment levels. At the same time, real wages are declining because of an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, changing worker expectations, and concerns about the quality of work are becoming more prominent issues globally.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) has accelerated the pace of adoption of technologies and shifted the frontier between humans and machines across sectors and geographies. Industry 4.0 related technology is exponentially altering the way we work, but also changing job content, skills needed, and which jobs are being displaced. Understanding how technologies will impact labor markets is crucial for determining whether people will be able to transition from declining occupations to the jobs of tomorrow.

According to the World Economic Forum—Future of Jobs Report 2023—these are the technologies ranked by the share of organizations surveyed who are likely or highly likely to adopt this technology over the next 5 years. 

Robotics Focus: Looking specifically at robots, the Future of Jobs Survey data highlights the Electronics (83%), Energy, Technology and Utilities (72%), and Consumer Goods (71%) industries as likely top adopters. Data from the International Federation of Robotics shows that the number of industrial robots per 10,000 workers has continued to rapidly increase over the last five years across countries. Industrial robot density has nearly doubled over the last five years, reaching 126 robots per 10,000 workers on average. Regarding robots’ impact on employment, the strongest sectoral picture emerges for the adoption of non-humanoid robots, wherein 60% of companies operating in the Production of Consumer Goods and the Oil and Gas industry foresee job displacement, and 60% of companies operating in Information and Technology services foresee job creation in the next five years.

AI Focus: The potential scope of automation and augmentation will further expand over the next few years, with AI techniques maturing and finding mainstream application across sectors. It remains to be seen how technologies going through the most rapid changes, such as generative AI technology, may further change the make-up of automatable tasks over the 2023–2027 period, with some recent studies finding that Large Language Models can already automate 15% of tasks. When combined with applications which can correct known issues with existing Large Language Models (such as factual inaccuracies), this share may increase to 50%

Among technology skills, the ability to efficiently use AI tools now exceeds computer programming by humans, networks and cybersecurity skills, general technology literacy skills, and design and user experience by some margin. AI and Big Data Analytics will compromise more than 40% of the technology training programs undertaken in the United States over the next five years.

Artificial intelligence strategies, 2023 to 2027

The probability that organizations surveyed will prioritize skills training in AI and big data versus the probability that they will adopt artificial-intelligence technologies and the likelihood of them pursuing automation as a business strategy.

Source: World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Survey 2023

During 2023, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has become one of NCATC’s Strategic Partners and vice-versa focused on the future of workforce development—specifically in the areas of robotics, automation, big data analytics, and AI. And over the past few months, A3 has partnered with AI experts from Microsoft, Nvidia, GE, Purdue, NCATC, and several community and technical colleges to develop a short “Intro to AI for Industrial Automation” course for both incumbent worker training and education. See the short video produced by A# below:

As always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected and up to date on all ATC, WFD, and CTE-related activities and guidance, via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.

Wishing you all a Wonderful Fall 2023!

President's Corner

Craig Lamb, President, NCATC

This quarter, our focus at the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers is on Industry 4.0 and the Future of Work. In our efforts to help manufacturers adopt and optimize Industry 4.0 solutions, the focus is often on the technology, but as community colleges we recognize that the most important success factor is people.

In its Smart Factory model, Deloitte identifies five key characteristics of a Smart Factory: connectivity, optimization, transparency, proactivity and agility. While Deloitte is describing factory automation systems, let’s examine these characteristics as Human Factors and community colleges’ role in shaping the next generation of manufacturing workers.

Connectivity: One of the most important factors of a Smart Factory is its connected nature. The more connected the system, the “smarter” the factory—and as much is true with manufacturing technicians. The scope of workers’ responsibilities has extended beyond simple cause-effect decision-making to a deep understanding of the complexities of highly integrated systems. Teaching skills in an authentic, applied environment will help students learn and practice the art of making real-time decisions, and project-based learning activities enhance students’ collaborative skills and integration of feedback from peers and customers.

Optimization: Machines and systems measure optimization by uptime—reliable, predictable production capacity. In Smart Factories, how do we know when a technician is optimized? Traditional measures of output are measures of the machines, not the people. Training technicians to understand their position’s value proposition and how to contribute effectively will optimize their effect.

Transparency: Smart Factories create data—lots of data. Students need to master the ability to integrate changes in customer demands and balance Key Production Indicators in order to leverage the smart systems of Industry 4.0.

Proactivity: Industry 4.0 systems and technicians work in tandem to predict anomalies and react to product quality issues and safety hazards. When our students learn to recognize trends, apply data to verify hunches, and identify causes of variation, they make smart systems smarter. Our classrooms must place students in scenarios where their intuition, analysis, and problem-solving are constantly tested to encourage proactivity on the job.

Agility: Smart Factories require rapid changeover of systems, processes, and products to adjust to customer needs, supply chain factors, and process capabilities. The technicians who support these systems need to be prepared for rapid changeover, as well. While training on the current technology, we must teach the skills needed for lifelong learning—the practices of reading for information, nurturing curiosity, and embracing change must be embedded in our courses and programs.

The future of work in Industry 4.0 environments is deeply connected to the systems and technologies that are employed there. Helping our students leverage the human factors that make smart systems smarter will ensure them a successful career and a happy employer.

It's my pleasure to serve as NCATC’s president for 2023, and I encourage you to reach out to me with any suggestions, questions, or comments. 

2023–2024 Board of Directors Transitions:

NCATC Directors Leaving the Board on Dec 31, 2023

Becky Epps

St. Louis Community College (MO)

Jonathan Beck

Northland Community & Technical College (MN)

Craig Lamb

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (NC)

Greg Jones

AMT <> Tooling U-SME (OH)


2024–2027 Board Directors

Dr. Robin Cole Jr.

Monroe Community College (NY)

Zack T. Hubbard

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (NC)

Dr. Claire Korschinowski

Clover Park Technical College (WA)

Kelcey Woods-Nord

South Central College (MN)

2024 Board Officers

Scott Lucas


Amanda Sizemore

Immediate Past President

Alicia Udhe

President Elect

Harriet Happel


Matt Janisin


2023/24 Membership – Highlights

NCATC Membership Committee – 2023 Initiatives

Streamlined Membership Levels

  • Coalition Member replaces Full Center & Associate Level
  • Affiliate Level included CTE High Schools

Moving to Digital Badges vs. Paper Certificates

NEW Enhanced Member Benefits


Sign up for eNewsletter

Sign up to get more involved

NCATC wants to engage more deeply with our members via our newly launched Member Drop-Ins. Each of these quarterly events focuses on one of NCATC’s 4 Strategic Pillars. 

Our third Member Drop-In this year will focus on NCATC Pillar 1: Future of Workforce: Industry 4.0/x.0, Advanced Technology, Smart Automation & Manufacturing – Promising Practices and Needs Discussion with Members.

Our time together will be with three NCATC Board Directors getting the conversation started by briefly highlighting each of their recent best practices articles from this newsletter.    


At a minimum, 40 minutes will be peer-to-peer, free-flowing conversation of sharing, listening, learning, asking questions, and building a stronger community around this focus area. 

Bring your “What I Have” and/or “What I Need” mindset to share. The goal will be to sustain these problem-solving ideas, relationships built, and conversations beyond our 60 minutes together during our Member Drop-In.

Please join us on Thursday, October 19, 2023, at 2:00 PM ET!


View NCATC35 program

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In This Issue

  • Board Updates
  • NCATC35 Highlights
  • Searching for Gold with CASERM
  • Enhancing Technician Education and Training at the Convergence of Robotics/Automation and Cybersecurity
  • Colleges Aim to Fill Workforce Needs with Technology Training Centers
  • 2023 NCATC Innovative ATC Workforce Development Award Recipient Announced
  • Welcome. New Coalition Members and Strategic Partners

Searching for Gold with CASERM

Students and faculty take part in drone-related experiential learning opportunity in collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines and industry partners

The Colorado School of Mines' Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models (CASERM) is a research center based out of Colorado. It was formed to enhance the use of geoscience data in the locating of subsurface minerals.

In March, NCAT, joined by Morgan Dorsey from the Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) and by the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS), continued its partnership with CASERM by traveling to Arizona and Nevada to combine their areas of expertise and use UAS to better locate and identify subsurface mineral resources, including precious metals.

The NCAT team and Dorsey assisted in the project by testing out an experimental drone with a hyperspectral camera attached to the bottom.

Instructor Morgan Dorsey explained the specialized camera. "The visible light spectrum is red, green, and blue, right? So then all those colors mesh so that you see different colors because they're different shades and hues. So that's just a couple of bands" explained Dorsey. "But the hyperspectral [camera] will actually take hundreds to thousands of bands, so you can see rock densities."

Dorsey explained that once miners can see the different rock densities, they can see the amount of gold metal found within the rock, theoretically allowing mining companies to make more informed decisions regarding where to dig. Dorsey said that it was an amazing mission to be a part of.

NCAT Principal Investigator Jonathan Beck was pleased with the outcome of the trip, saying the students and faculty participating learned a great deal from this experiential learning opportunity. The NCAT team is hoping to continue to collaborate with CASERM on future field research.

Enhancing Technician Education and Training at the Convergence of Robotics/Automation and Cybersecurity

TRACKS-CN is an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that is led by the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) and focused on enhancing technician education and training at the convergence of robotics/automation and cybersecurity. The cyber-physical systems that exist in today’s manufacturing facilities create vulnerabilities that cyber attackers may target to impede a manufacturer’s ability to produce goods or bring production to a standstill. TRACKS-CN seeks to build cyber awareness among factory floor technicians to reduce the probability that manufacturers will fall victim to costly cyber attacks.

The coordination network assembled to complete this project includes individuals from 11 community colleges across 8 states, 8 Manufacturing Extension Partnerships, as well as representatives from Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM), The Digital Manufacturing and Cybersecurity Institute (MxD), and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). Working together, the group has developed a micro-credential called the Cyber4RAM badge to build cyber awareness among technicians working in the areas of robotics, automation, and mechatronics. The no-cost badge utilizes the free Learning Management System (LMS) Canvas Instructure to house its 11 modules. Each module is centered around one of the competencies from the NICE framework, which includes over 50 competencies. The competencies selected to be a part of the Cyber4RAM badge were chosen based on their ties to advanced manufacturing. Learners earn a digital badge, issued by Credly, after successfully completing each of the 11 modules and the accompanying assessments. Those interested in learning more about the Cyber4RAM badge can find details in the Digital Badge section of the TRACKS-CN website: https://ncmep.org/tracks-cn/.

Another accomplishment of TRACKS-CN is the delivery of events called Automation Conversations. Held at community colleges, these events seek to connect local manufacturers, MEP representatives, and community college faculty and students. MEPs exist in every state, and their role is to help small and medium-sized manufacturers survive and thrive. MEPs and community colleges share the common goal of seeking to enable a strong pipeline of technically skilled workers to strengthen the local manufacturing workforce. Automation Conversations provide a forum for engaging discussions about how to prepare for Industry 4.0 and the changing technologies and workforce needs it brings.

During fall 2023, two main objectives for the TRACKS-CN team are: 1) development of a Level 2 badge to expand upon the awareness building of the initial Cyber4RAM badge through inclusion of hands-on activities to build basic cyber skills in manufacturing technicians; and 2) delivery of a webinar to help small and medium-sized manufacturers learn more about micro-credentials and how micro-credentials provide advantages for employee advancement and organizational development. Details of the webinar will be shared on the TRACKS-CN website, noted above.

This work is part of a project funded by the Advanced Technological Education Program of the National Science Foundation DUE #2000867. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Colleges Aim to Fill Workforce Needs With Technology Training Centers

College-based advanced technology centers offer students a direct path to manufacturing careers.

Chris Hayhurs (Excerpted with permission from EdTech, Feb 16, 2023)

Innovation in education has always been near and dear to Jon Hardbarger’s heart. Now, however, it’s also near his office, and he can see it and hear it every day when he goes to work.

As director of the brand-new College of Lake County Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee, Ill., Hardbarger has a desk just off the building’s atrium, steps away from the front door.

“Innovative education has to create an environment that engages students,” he says. “They need to be able to see the relevance of what they’re learning and immediately apply it to the real world.”

At the ATC, Hardbarger notes, hands-on work defines the educational experience. The light-filled, 182,000-square-foot facility had previously housed a big-box store. Then, last August, it opened for the fall semester: a teaching and learning center designed to prepare students for cutting-edge jobs in the manufacturing industry.

“We’re off and running,” Hardbarger says now. “Whoever decides to walk through those doors, they’re on their way to a great future.”

Continue reading at EdTech

The National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), NOCTI, and Nocti Business Solutions (NBS) are pleased to announce Mr. Dan Stroot of Missouri as this year’s recipient of the NCATC Innovative ATC Workforce Development Award. The NCATC Innovative ATC Workforce Development Award recognizes outstanding workforce development professionals and industry colleagues who make significant contributions to the education and training of today’s advanced technology and manufacturing workforce.

Press Release

Welcome, New Coalition Members

Welcome, New Strategic Partners

NCATC Strategic Partners, Fall 2023