Last week, ISA announced that the Automation Federation (AF) was awarded the 2012 ML 100 Workforce Development Award by Manufacturing Executive for their work in “AutomationSTEM” programs that are helping to ensure a bright future for automation profession.  This award also recognizes the work being done with US FIRST, AF’s Alliance Partner who is helping to create and facilitate STEM programs.  ISA’s press release noted:

The Automation Federation was selected for the 2012 ML100 New Workforce Award by Manufacturing Executive, the global community for manufacturing leadership and producer of the Manufacturing Leadership Summit and ML100 Awards program.

The Automation Federation is being recognized for its AutomationSTEM program and its related activities, initiatives and collaborations, including the Alliance with FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). AutomationSTEM is designed to make the future workforce aware of the importance of automation and engineering; the many career opportunities available in this broad profession; and the importance science, technology, engineering and math will play in those careers.

While the press release shared the highlights of the award, I wanted to hear from Mike Marlowe, Managing Director of AF, to find out what “workforce development” meant and get his take on what the award means for the automation profession.

Mike Marlowe noted:

While this is the fourth time AF has won this type of award, this one is the sweetest since it reaffirms all that what we are doing regarding STEM and promotion of automation to students.  Our goal is to build that next generation of automation professionals.  The work behind the Automation Competency Model is paying off as interest grows in developing curriculum across high schools and community colleges.  We are fortunate to have great synergy between US FIRST and ISA – and we are starting to see the results of more students interested in developing  a career in automation.

Mike shared a few of the significant developments that the Workforce Development Committee is working on:

  • AF is working with American Association of Community Colleges to develop a Community College Consortium that will use the Automation Competency Model as a framework to organize curriculum into a two-year associate’s degree for students.   The first Community College to take part in this program is the Cleveland Community College where they formed an Automation Center of Excellence to develop an Associate’s Degree in Automation. In February, CCC was awarded a grant from the National Fluid Power Association Education and Technology Foundation to develop a Fluid Power in Automation course at the College.
  • AF is actively working with Durham, NC public schools to develop an “automation high school” that has specific automation curriculum that students can learn.  While budget challenges have slowed progress, there is still strong commitment to continue to develop the idea.  Last month, Pat Gouhin, CEO of ISA paid a visit to Durham high school during engineering week to discuss the automation profession as a career.
  • AF and ISA continues to work closely with US FIRST to engage students of all ages in the engineering field.  ISA sections and districts have supported these programs by sponsoring FIRST Robotics Competitions in their local areas. For example, the Sarnia section who is hosting the Jr. LEGO Robotics Competition in the fall this year.
  • Mike Marlowe is serving on the Durham, NC School Committee and is participating in the Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program Review.  This program requires each NC school district to take an in-depth review of their CTE programs to see where an automation curriculum could be incorporated in standard high school curriculum.  This work will serve as template that can be applied to other schools around the country.

Join me in congratulating Michael Marlowe and the team at AF for their great efforts in Workforce Development!  We look forward to hearing more about the progress of each of these initiatives over the upcoming months.




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