Volume 21, No. 4, 4th Quarter, 2020
From the Director ...

Craig McAtee, NCATC CEO and Executive Director
NCATC Friends and Colleagues,

Check out our new look!

We hope you will find the new all-digital NCATC newsletter a pleasure to read and more informative than ever. Please let us know your thoughts, any time.

Last year, as we looked forward to the hope of emerging from the “cloud of COVID-19,” we continued to build a strong foundation of corporate partners, collaborations, and activities, further enhancing our value to NCATC members.

In 2021 we will continue to analyze the longer-term trends in advanced technology and manufacturing (Industry 4.0), driven in part by COVID-19 effects, that will lead to shifts in the technology and manufacturing sectors and corresponding workforce demands and skill needs.

Those trends will most likely include:

  • Declines in incentives for globally distributed production;
  • Increased reshoring with more integrated and robust supply chains;
  • Sharp increases in the demand for robotics, automation, AI, VR, IIoT, and cybersecurity; and
  • More effective, efficient, and robust skills-gap training modalities for industry.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Americans have expressed a consistent preference for non-degree and skills training options. The traditional baccalaureate education is no longer the one-size-fits-all pathway to postsecondary education and careers.

A college degree isn’t for everyone: 65% of Americans don’t hold college degrees and only about half see them as very important. Recent surveys conducted by the Strada Education Network suggest that 68% of adults looking to pursue higher education now prefer non-degree programs, compared to 50% who preferred them before COVID. Colleges and universities are even embedding non-degree credentials in traditional degree programs.
How do we build education pathways that can address today’s skills gap? Here’s one proven solution: Embed high-quality industry-recognized credentials in college degree and certificate programs.

Credential Engine demonstrates that there are more than 475,000 non-degree credentials in the U.S., including industry certifications, certificates, licenses, apprenticeships, and more. Which ones are worth pursuing?

The truth is we don’t know for sure. In the U.S., outcome data for non-degree programs is not standardized nationally, which makes it challenging for workers to know which ones are of high quality.

In December 2020 the Business Roundtable, a nonprofit organization representing CEOs of major U.S. companies, announced a new initiative to recognize skills, rather than only college degrees, in the hiring process.

Industry-recognized credentials such as NIMS, MSSC, NC3, SACA, and AWS have real value in the labor market and meet key quality indicators such as:

  • Leading directly to good jobs,
  • Contributing to gender and racial equity,
  • “Stacking” towards continuing education, and
  • Being obtainable with relatively small expenditures of time and money.

Integrating industry-recognized credentials into degree and certificate programs can bring students to career success earlier—and help fill the skills gap.

The “future of work” is changing the workplace at a ferocious velocity, demanding that we all learn and re-learn throughout our careers. Higher education’s “New Normal” task is to offer just the right kind of learning in just the right amount in just the right way. We’ll know we have it right when students can:

  • Begin a program of learning on any day of the year;
  • Go as fast or as slow as they need to and pause whenever they want;
  • Pay for mastery and actual learning instead of how long they spent sitting at a desk;
  • Get learning from any source, as long as they can demonstrate proficiency and can be rigorously assessed; and
  • Get financial aid for a wider array of programs offering a wider array of industry-recognized credentials from a wider array of providers.

Those at the highest risk of displacement are working adults, including women and underserved minorities, who balance caregiving, work, and minding their personal and mental health. They deserve faster, more affordable pathways to high-quality jobs.

The NCATC 2021 Winter Webinar Series on Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) will begin soon. The January 26 webinar will highlight NCATC member colleges and industry partners as they work with ACTE to improve best practices in ADEI during the pandemic and beyond.

As always, we encourage you to stay connected and up to date on all ATC and CTE-related “New Normal” activities and guidance, via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.
In This Issue
  • Rock Valley College Awarded Second Workforce Equity Initiative Grant
  • The Nord Advanced Technologies Center at Lorain County Community College
  • National Drone Safety Awareness Week
  • College of the Canyons Community College: Helping to Create an Industry 4.0 Ready Workforce
  • Researching Student Recruitment and Marketing for Technology Programs
  • NCATC Partners with Edge Factor: Free Experiences to Inspire the Next Workforce
  • Urban Institute Reveals New Collaboration to Strengthen Equity in Career and Technical Education
NCATC is excited to launch a new Strategic Partnership with ACTE this year to combine our collective expertise, passion, and national leadership for continuous improvements in workforce development and career and technical education.

In this interactive webinar, you’ll experience how 2020 became the tipping point for a more intentional approach to addressing these issues in career and technical education. Discover how educators and industry partners have implemented Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion best practices for career and technical education and workforce development that result in better-engaged learners, regardless of racial, economic, or social backgrounds.

Join us as NCATC Strategic Partners share these best practices to improve your programs and engage a much broader audience in today’s virtual world.
College Scholarships Available
Students pursuing engineering or manufacturing college degrees can help fund their educational aspirations by completing one application for nearly 60 scholarship funds offered by the SME Education Foundation. The Foundation annually awards millions of dollars to engineering and manufacturing students across the country.  

Make sure that your students take advantage of this excellent opportunity. Apply for an SME Education Foundation scholarship today.

Deadline to apply is February 1, 2021.
NSF-ATE Project Offers Coaching on Strategic Employer Engagement
Pathways to Innovation (PTI), a National Science Foundation ATE program initiative, offers free resources to help colleges cultivate employer partnerships that foster continuous program improvement and innovation. PTI builds on the ATE-supported Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) model, a proven method for strategic employer engagement developed by the National Convergence Technology Center. PTI comprises three complementary initiatives:

  1. The BILT Academy helps teams of employers and faculty from community college STEM programs to keep pace with shifting workforce demands and evolving technologies.
  2. The Grant-seeker Academy helps colleges build on BILT’s essential elements to develop competitive ATE proposals for innovative programs responsive to employer needs.
  3. ATE Answers assists grantees with effective grant implementation and management based on strategic employer engagement principles.

Learn how you can get involved at pathwaystoinnovation.org.
Rock Valley College Awarded Second Workforce Equity Initiative Grant

WEI grant program serves low-income and minority students
Rock Valley College was recently awarded a $1.2 million Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to continue the work it has been doing to serve low-income, minority persons within the College’s district who are currently underserved and underemployed. 

RVC was awarded a WEI grant of $1.5 million in September 2019. From the awarding of that grant through June 2020, RVC served 116 students, 76 of whom were African-American. Fifty-seven students have completed WEI programs at RVC, which include Truck Driver Training, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operation, Cold Forming, and Industrial Welding. So far, 35 of those students have found employment after completion of a WEI program at RVC. There are 34 students still enrolled and working toward completion.

Additionally, 42 students (including 24 African-American) have completed and passed the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) – Measurement, Material and Safety exam, while 31 students (including 16 African-American) have completed and passed the NIMS – CNC Operator exam.

The new $1.2 million WEI grant period will be from November 1, 2020, through October 31, 2021. RVC programs that will be included for this grant period are CNC, Truck Driver Training, Dental Assisting, Mobile Application Development, and Industrial Maintenance Technician.

The initiative provides participants with stipends to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and materials for courses required to complete the identified short-term certificate. Students are also provided with wrap-around support services, such as life and career coaching and financial support for transportation and child care, addressing their individual needs to be successful in completing educational requirements and securing post-completion employment.

Under the grant requirements, at least 60 percent of those to be served by RVC-WEI must be African American students. The grant also stipulates that at least 75 percent of participants should successfully complete their identified program of study within the accelerated time frame, at least 50 percent of participants should successfully complete life-skills training addressing the Illinois Essential Employability Skills, and at least 60 percent of participants should continue within the field in which they prepared at the end of their program by either being employed in a full-time job at least 30 percent above the regional living wage or by being registered for continued training/education.
The Nord Advanced Technologies Center at Lorain County Community College

Staying ahead of the curve at LCCC
Lorain County Community College helps businesses and industry adapt to the changing world with innovative services and training in advanced manufacturing technologies. Whether it’s retraining displaced workers to learn new skills tied to Industry 4.0 or assisting a business in converting its manufacturing line to create cutting-edge products with new technology, LCCC has the tools to keep Lorain County ahead of the curve.

The Nord Advanced Technologies Center is a 50,000-square-foot facility that includes the Manufacturing Center for Excellence and the Campana Center for Ideation and Invention. The Nord ATC also houses Weld-Ed – the National Center for Welding Education and Training; the Fab Lab – the first of its kind on a community college campus to design and build prototypes; as well as an on-site Digital Manufacturing Line – a flexible system that lets manufacturers design, test, and embed automation into their production lines to find the most effective way to manufacture products. The center provides training in all of these to local manufacturers to ensure they stay on top of trends in their field.

LCCC through its Nord ATC offers multiple short-term, one-year, and associate degrees in a variety of manufacturing specialties like computer-aided design, industrial electrical technician, digital fabrication, industrial Internet of things, and mechanical design. LCCC also has pathways for graduates to continue their education, such as pursuing a bachelor’s degree through one of the University Partnership programs offered on the LCCC campus, or its own bachelor of applied science degree in microelectronic manufacturing.

For those already working in industry, LCCC also offers several options for individuals to enhance their skills through short-term programs, micro-credentials, and non-credit programs. LCCC also has extensive experience working with area companies to host apprenticeship programs. Examples include the Great Lakes Area Boilermakers Apprenticeship program, the UAW/Ford Motor Company Joint Apprenticeship program, and the Masonry Technology Apprenticeship and Degree Pathway. These apprenticeship programs help current employees build new skills and open up advancement opportunities within their companies.

The Nord ATC also supports the community in other ways. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when personal protective equipment was at a premium, especially for healthcare workers, LCCC’s Fab Lab staff found a way to help.

The Nord ATC team took 12 printers into their homes and ran them 24/7, creating mini manufacturing floors wherever they had space. They did everything from sourcing and ordering materials to printing parts to packaging the kits. The LCCC Foundation’s Lifeshare Legacy Fund provided funding for the supplies and materials. They printed 3D headbands for safety visor kits that included five sheets of off-the-shelf acetate transparency material to create the replaceable shields.

The kits were delivered to the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for distribution to local medical facilities that were in the greatest need at the time.

LCCC’s Nord ATC is committed to workforce development in Lorain County and Northeast Ohio. For more information, visit www.lorainccc.edu/business/advanced-manufacturing.
National Drone Safety Awareness Week

Jonathan Beck, Executive Director and PI, National Center for Autonomous Technologies, National Science Foundation ATE Program, UAS Technology Instructor, Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, Minnesota
The National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) held events in tandem with The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during its second annual National Drone Safety Awareness Week, Nov. 16-22, 2020. The FAA is committed to ensuring the National Airspace System's safety as we continue to integrate drones and other new technologies. Drone Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity for others to promote and share their commitment to drone safety. NCAT produced and broadcasted six webinars through Zoom and Facebook Live, highlighting the many aspects NCAT brings to the autonomous technology education community. 
The events began with learning what a person needs to know before purchasing and flying a drone and progressed to highlight how to fly, where to learn, and even how to start a UAS program or incorporate specific learning modules into existing STEM classes. All webinars are available at ncatech.org/videos.
  • LEARN – What do you need to know before you fly?
  • IMPROVE – How can you improve your flying skills?
  • PASSION TO PROFESSION – How to go from recreational flyer to commercial drone pilot
  • START A PROGRAM – Learn about starting a public safety program
  • IN THE CLASSROOM – How can you use drones in STEM education? 
  • HAVING FUN: Why do you fly? 
The events were able to reach a national audience to highlight programs and activities that all of us in autonomous technologies have been working on for years but now have the opportunity to expand the network and help other organizations grow safely and efficiently.

For more information, contact the author at jonathan.beck@northlandcollege.edu.
College of the Canyons Community College: Helping to Create an Industry 4.0 Ready Workforce

Tim Baber, Professor of Welding Technology, College of the Canyons, Valencia, California
College of the Canyons (COC) recently received funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to begin preliminary development of an Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to serve the workforce and economic needs of key industry sectors in the college’s service area, and the wider region.

The proposal to the Chancellor’s Office was based on the results of a Member Assistance Program (MAP) report prepared by NCATC that identified strategic areas for the college to provide curriculum and programs of study that specifically align with Industry 4.0. The development of an ATC could not be timelier, as the college serves northern Los Angeles County, an area that includes several major aerospace manufacturers in dire need of trained individuals to meet their current workload requirements.

While the college is evaluating sites for the ATC, it is working closely with the William S. Hart Union High School District to create career technical education dual-enrollment opportunities at the community’s newest high school. A 10,000-square-foot building at Castaic High School will house advanced manufacturing and welding labs. Students will earn industry certifications such as NC3, AWS, and NIMS, which will ultimately position them for employment upon graduation. All dual-enrollment courses offered will articulate with current certificate and degree programs offered by the college, allowing students to pursue certificates and degrees offered by the college.

For more information, contact the author at tim.baber@canyons.edu.
Researching Student Recruitment and Marketing for Technology Programs
You have an opportunity to help influence recruitment strategies for your technology programs. Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA), a strategic partner of NCATC, is researching current challenges in student recruitment for technology, manufacturing, and relevant programs in community colleges. Current strategies continue to fall short, even though the need for your graduates continues to increase. We have been commissioned to execute a study that will define challenges and best practices in the student recruitment/attraction process. We encourage you to participate or direct us toward the person on your campus that we can contact. All information is confidential, but we will write a summary of our findings with potential solutions based on this nationwide study.

Please contact Dr. Stephen Catt at scatt@tpma-inc.com or 724.679.7940 to learn about your college’s opportunity to participate.
NCATC Partners with Edge Factor: Free Experiences to Inspire the Next Workforce
In 2021, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) is partnering with Edge Factor to equip organizations across North America with three Experience toolkits to inspire students and job-seekers to pursue career pathways. This strategic workforce development initiative will provide Advanced Technology Centers, schools, companies, and workforce leaders with FREE access to high-impact multimedia, a keynote presentation, promotional tools, and a practical guidebook on how to plan, promote, host, and follow-up on engaging Experiences. These online Experiences empower students, parents, and job-seekers to explore skilled trades, apprenticeships, technical education programs, careers, STEAM, and soft skills.

Edge Factor, a widely used e-learning platform, has created thousands of videos, interactive activities, and lesson plans that focus on career exploration. K-12 and postsecondary schools, companies, and organizations partner with Edge Factor to help tackle workforce development regionally and nationally. Wielding the power of storytelling, Edge Factor media showcases industries and career profiles, teaches soft skills, shows how STEAM comes alive on-the-job, provides Virtual Workplace Experiences, and promotes training and career opportunities.

Featuring select tools from the Edge Factor library, six free Experiences will be available during specific 2021 months, for organizations to share in classrooms, homes, and at events. Click here to learn more and pre-register.

“When 'normal' is no longer considered normal, we look for ways to reshape initiatives, get creative, adapt, and engage with our communities,” said Larissa Hofman, Vice President of Edge Factor. “By linking arms with the NCATC Team and Craig McAtee, we will equip ATCs and organizations across North America to engage families at home and students in classrooms - to inspire and build the future workforce.”

“After following the early works of Edge Factor over five years ago, NCATC invited their Founder & CEO, Jeremy Bout, to be our keynote speaker for our 2016 annual Fall Conference hosted by Harper College (IL). From the moment we met, we knew we were of like mind, passion, and desire to work even closer for greater impact and reach for the greater good of our country’s education and workforce needs. This new, deeply committed collaboration exemplifies our combined strengths, vision, and commitment to all of that and much more!” Craig McAtee, CEO & Exec Dir, NCATC

NCATC is specifically partnering with Edge Factor on the following three 2021 Experiences:

  1. Future Skills (Jan - Feb 2021) - Promoting technical education programs with high-impact videos and tools, in honor of CTE Month.
  2. Rock MFG DAY (Sept-August 2021) - Tools to promote careers and showcase how STEAM comes alive in the exciting world of advanced manufacturing.
  3. Apprenticeships (Nov-Dec 2021) - High-impact resources for students and parents to discover the power of apprenticeship programs.

To pre-register for these free 2021 Experiences, visit edgefactor.com/free-experiences.

For more information on Edge Factor or to book a demo, please visit edgefactor.com or email info@edgefactor.com
Urban Institute Reveals New Collaboration to Strengthen Equity in Career and Technical Education
The Urban Institute announced today a grant from ECMC Foundation to develop resources that support community and technical colleges with the transition to online learning while also working toward reducing completion gaps, particularly for Black and Latinx students in online, credit-bearing postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs.

ECMC Foundation has committed $2.5 million over two and a half years for the CTE CoLab Coalition and College Community of Practice. The program, led by Urban, will create a robust partnership with the National Council for Workforce Education; World Education, Inc.; the Instructional Technology Council; the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers; and the Office of Community College Research and Leadership. The coalition will support a research-informed College Community of Practice (CCP), which will include 15 community and technical colleges selected by the CTE CoLab Coalition. Through this effort, the coalition will also develop a toolbox of resources to support equity in online CTE programs.

“CTE programs play an important role in preparing students for good jobs. Even prior to the pandemic, there was evidence of equity gaps for students of color,” said Shayne Spaulding, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “As so many programs have been forced online, this exciting new collaboration is in a unique position to support colleges in making their programs more inclusive and accessible, ultimately leading to higher success for students.”

The CTE CoLab Coalition builds on the established expertise of partners and aims to help CCP colleges center equity in program goals and delivery. Grounded in research, the forthcoming resources will enhance existing online CTE professional development tools for faculty, career navigators, and administrators while providing new resources to improve program curriculum, retention and completion among Black and Latinx students. The CTE CoLab Coalition will work with CCP colleges by offering technical assistance and coaching for implementing action plans and coordination for virtual and in-person workshops.

“The pandemic coupled with our country’s long-overdue reckoning on racial inequality has underscored the urgency for ensuring the implementation and expansion of online postsecondary CTE is done with equity in mind,” shared Jennifer Zeisler, career readiness senior director at ECMC Foundation. “We believe the Urban Institute and their coalition of partners are uniquely positioned to help community and technical colleges improve online CTE programs and center equity at the core of their efforts in large part because of the experience and expertise of the partners, their potential to reach a vast and diverse audience, and their plans to quickly implement, field-test, and scale best practices.”

In its first year, the CTE CoLab Coalition will publish a research brief covering CTE current practices in ensuring equity, existing CTE resources, and information gained from interviews with leading experts in the field. This report will build important knowledge for the field, but will also help shape the project’s selection of the CCP.

“Our mission as an organization has always been to advance economic mobility for individuals and communities struggling to overcome institutionalized barriers to their full inclusion in economic and civic life. Career and technical education has the potential to achieve this mission, when delivered with an eye toward equity and opportunity to improve economic security. This partnership offers colleges resources needed to leverage educational technology and prioritize equity to mitigate the barriers that impact persistence and prepare students for 21st-century careers and work,” said Silja Kallenbach, vice president of the US Division of World Education, Inc. “We look forward to sharing our expertise to support CTE faculty, staff, and administrators integrating technology and student support programming with Urban and our coalition members on the important work that lies ahead.” 

About the Urban Institute—The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.

About ECMC Foundation—ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation with a mission to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners, and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting www.ecmcfoundation.org and ECMC Group by visiting www.ecmcgroup.org.