In its second year, the experiential summer program is part of a project to build an academic pathway for Logistics Engineering Technicians funded by a National Science Foundation grant under the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The project addresses skills and knowledge gaps found in emerging occupations in the logistics field where automation and sophisticated computerized systems are becoming more prevalent.
If you ask most companies in shipping or logistics if it is possible to hire someone with an associate degree who knows logistics, engineering, and information technology, they will tell you that such graduates do not exist, and they would be right. But, graduates with this unique set of skills will be hitting the workforce in just two years thanks to a new AAS program coming out of Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio where the first class of students have enrolled in the degree program and begun their instruction this fall.
“I was excited to see this degree was being created. It fills a gap that has been out there for some time,” said Jeremy Banta, Lead Faculty for the Supply Chain Management program at Columbus State.
The new AAS degree in Logistics Engineering Technology (LET) was formed after collecting input from area employers who helped the college identify the skills and knowledge requirements for this evolving occupation. The degree brings together core competencies in accounting and finance, communication, information technology (IT), leadership, and logistics. It also brings in technical knowledge from industrial engineering technology and electro-mechanical engineering technology.
“What we’ve recognized is it’s difficult to find the right people with the right skill sets,” said Brandon Andrews, Senior Corporate Learning & Development Manager at Intelligrated, which is part of Honeywell. “We’re looking for a certain level of aptitude or proficiency before we bring them on.”
Andrews points out that the increasingly automated logistics field relies on sophisticated systems representing investments in the tens of millions of dollars. His company does not hire inexperienced people to run or maintain such systems. They are looking for well-trained people who have chosen the occupation and who are prepared with the training they need to get up to speed quickly.
“The Logistics Engineering Technology program at Columbus State encompasses the more technical aspects together with the operations piece and how the systems all interact with the facility, as a whole,” said Andrews.
The goal of the AAS program is to have students graduate with an understanding of the fundamentals of IT and computer science, principals of engineering, and fundamentals of logistics so they can talk to all these groups.
“The main rationale for the degree is to combine logistics with engineering technologies,” said Tara Sheffer, Grant Coordinator at Columbus State. “We know logistics is changing, we know distribution is changing, we know there is a skills gap.”
The new degree program was developed with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, which specifically aims to help community colleges develop academic programs for the education of technicians for high-technology fields important to the nation’s economy.
“Columbus State recognized early on that most students in the Supply Chain Management degree program were returning adults,” said Banta. To accommodate these students, 50 to 75 percent of the courses for the LET degree can be completed online.
Industry partnerships were key to the development of this degree program. They will also be key to future evolution of this program, which is slated to include a work study component and internship requirement.
Columbus State is also working to develop a third phase to this program, referred to as a “two plus two plus two” pathway. In this model, students embark on a career pathway beginning the last two years of high school. Then, they complete a two-year degree program at a community college followed by two years at a university to earn a bachelor’s degree.
As they move forward, the college will continuously work to identify and predict emerging technologies and trends affecting logistics occupations. Their goal is to continuously update the curriculum to meet evolving needs within the workforce.
“I always joke that an English professor does not necessarily have to be out in industry to see what’s new going on in their area. But, we do,” said Banta. “At least once a week we’re taking a tour, talking to an industry leader, or attending a conference so we can hear about what is new out there and what gaps need to be filled. For instance, a lot of employers right now are saying soft skills are a problem. Employees know how to do regression analysis, but they don’t know how to write an email.”
For more information about the degree program, visit the Columbus State website. Information about the curriculum and how it was developed may be found on the Columbus State website page for the grant project. To learn more about collaborating with Columbus State, contact Tara Sheffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees with specific skills and a technical education are in demand in the transportation industry and this need is growing. Unfortunately, too few young people are being ushered toward transportation careers. Over the past decade, the nation’s K-12 educational systems have worked hard to deliver students to four-year degree programs at universities. This focus has greatly reduced the number of shop and hands-on technical classes, resulting in dwindling opportunities to expose students to the sorts of careers that drive the transportation industry today.
The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is determined to reverse this trend by providing young people with in-person, hands-on experiences, while demonstrating the value to parents, school administrators, industry representatives, and others. They are doing this with a new mobile outreach unit, a trailer decked out with stations for each transportation mode that is pulled by a truck. The trailer is outfitted with several pieces of equipment, creating hands-on stations where students, counselors, teachers, peers, and parents can participate in real activities that occur in transportation careers. These activities showcase the technology in the industry and help students develop passion for transportation careers.
“It’s one thing to put out a webinar, put out a newsletter, or tell someone about these careers,” said Chris Hadfield, Director of the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence. But, he pointed out, it’s completely different when students and their parents visit the trailer and have that hands-on experience.
The mobile unit was used for the first time in early May at an event where high school students were competing to build fuel efficient miniature cars with lawn mower engines. The event hosted about 700 attendees and approximately 200-300 people walked through the trailer.
Inside, the center has designed an experience that promotes engagement with not just the students. School decision makers and parents, which the center refers to as influencers, are also targeted by the trailer.
“You have to have something to draw them in, the big trailer does that. Then you have to have industry partnerships,” said Hadfield. The goal is to have industry representatives from each transportation sector accompany the trailer at events. These industry volunteers work alongside center staff to greet people and talk about transportation jobs.
“We know that when we put an industry person in front of a school superintendent while they’re seeing students get engaged with the experience, that’s when we start to have real conversations about bringing their tech programs back, bringing their transportation programs back, maybe doing some cool internship or apprenticeship with us,” said Hadfield.
Involving industry representatives in outreach activities also serves to bring the transportation sectors together.
“Our idea is to have somebody from the trucking industry sitting side by side, two feet away from, somebody from the aviation sector and they’re side by side with somebody from the railroad and so on and so forth. We have these people mingling and they hadn’t realized before that they have something in common and now they realize that they do. And, common denominators mean that you should be collaborating and working together. There’s a lot more power in working together than alone in silos,” sad Hadfield.
Moving forward, the trailer will be made available to each of the center’s 26 partner post-secondary schools across the state. To utilize the trailer, the schools’ responsibilities include coordinating industry representatives to accompany the trailer, getting the high schools in their region on board, and arranging either a career fair on their own campus or to bring the trailer to a high school. The trailer is made available to center partners at no cost except to return the truck with a full tank of gas.
Brand new, the trailer is already booked for over 36 events over the course of the year. The success of the project so far is attributed to the collaboration of the schools, employers, and the center. Having representatives from the industry is really important toward the outreach goals of the center.
“If a post-secondary educator tells a secondary educator or a student about these careers, that’s nice and it works fine. But, when an industry person tells you, ‘By the way I’m hiring and right now I have people who work for me and this is what I pay them and this is what they do,’ the message has much more weight for a student, a parent or for a school superintendent,” said Hadfield.
About the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence
The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is an innovative collaboration between Minnesota state colleges and universities and industry partners dedicated to educating and training workers for high-demand careers in the transportation industry.
The center was started in January of 2013 in response feedback from industry “listening sessions” held in 2012. Through the development of partnerships, the center supports workforce alignment in order to meet the current and future needs of the state’s transportation industry, not only in terms of the number of graduates but also in terms of the location of programs and the rate of degree attainment. The center coordinates the alignment of skills and knowledge needed by employers with what is taught in instructional programs while providing outreach to improve student awareness of employment markets.
In recognition of the importance of workforce issues to Wisconsin’s contractors, Wisconsin Operating Engineers partnered with Destinations Career Academy to develop the Operating Engineers Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This program prepares students for registered apprenticeship while still in high school. Hosted through the McFarland School district in south-central Wisconsin, this program is available through course options to students throughout the state.
A relatively new degree program at Kansas State Polytechnic is filling a significant talent gap and launching competitive applicants into the workforce. The Airport Management degree program was founded on the principal of teaching evidence-based and real-world practices so graduates will enter the workforce with experiences on par with what they would gain from years of on-the-job experience.
In January, students will be sitting down for their first class of Supply Chain Management 101, part of the curriculum of the newly launched Logistics/Supply Chain Management Registered Apprenticeship program at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. The next day, the students will go to work where they will start applying their classroom-acquired knowledge to the real-world applications provided by the companies that employ them.
In the spring of 2019, these students will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Manufacturing Technology with a specialization in Supply Chain Management – Logistics. Additionally, they will have acquired up to seven industry recognized credentials earned through the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and a Department of Labor (DoL) certification that they are fully qualified for their occupation. At the same time, the companies, having paid the students’ wages and tuition throughout this process, will gain highly qualified employees ready to hit the ground running with a specialized understanding of how the principals are applied at their organization. Read more
With case studies, videos, a report, and an online toolkit, national non-profit, Jobs for the Future (JFF), provides a model for implementing work-based learning programs for community colleges.
The toolkit, called Work-Based Learning in Action, tackles a key challenge facing many prospective employees: relevant work experience is often required for employment, but can be difficult to obtain prior to entering the workplace. Work-based learning, promoted by this toolkit, is one solution.
JFF has identified seven principles for effective work-based learning. Each of the case studies focuses on a successful program using one or more of these principles.
Since it was launched, Transportation Today WI has transformed career and technical education (CTE) programs across Wisconsin into desired destinations, not just a place where some students end up, according to publisher, Renée Feight. This change is, in part, because the newspaper written for students brings awareness of great career prospects in transportation to the classroom. Feight and Larry Werner, publishers of the Transportation Today WI newspaper are excited about all things transportation. The publication was added as a special publication of its parent publication, Teaching Today WI, in 2010. Read more
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