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assignments, oversee their progress, and save time often dedi- cated to administrative tasks. If we see that a concept is trending low, we can reteach and reinforce that lesson. It’s also simple to export results to a spreadsheet, which makes reporting easier. UTC’s Machine Tool Technology program is the fi rst in


Instructor Kevin Sands (left) assists a student enrolled in the Career Technical Education Program at the United Technical Center, Clarksburg, WV.


lows business and industry professionals to play a signifi cant role in identifying CTE programs that prepare high school students for successful careers after they graduate. By incorporating environmental workplace protocols that line up with the state’s workforce requirements, students gain real- life work experience. They learn professionalism, safety guide- lines, as well as “soft skills,” like practicing good attendance; all of which prepare them for the workplace. The students also have to wear uniforms, undergo random drug testing and utilize a time clock as part of their participation in the simulated work- place program. State grants cover all of these expenses.


Responsibility Stressed Taking ownership of their education is a major part of the initiative as students are expected to manage their online courses. Every six-week cycle, we provide students with all of their requirements for online Tooling U-SME courses, and they are responsible for scheduling their time accordingly. We split the courses into bundles of classes and then pass them on to the students at specifi c times during the semester. These classes include interactive quizzes, role- playing scenarios, shop “labs,” and CNC simulators. I took 36 courses before introducing Tooling U-SME to the students because I didn’t want them using the online system if I hadn’t. The material fi ts right in with our Simulated Work- place philosophy of giving more responsibility to students. The availability of the online courses is a plus for the students; they like having access to lessons at any time, even on a snow day. We actually had one student working on courses on his iPad up in a tree while bow hunting. The fl exibility allows students to manage their course load based on their schedules.


Tools for Teachers, Too


Instructors also like the online courses, because the moni- toring tools help them see how much time students spend on


West Virginia to be recognized by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the highest benchmark for met- alworking training programs in the US—based on national, industry-written and industry-driven skills standards. UTC has received other honors, including earning a Schools of Excellence Award (2011–2012). Most importantly, the school is ensuring students are employable at the end of the program by meeting industry expectations. When students fi nish the two-year program, they leave with a portfolio that includes documented learning, qualifi cations earned, projects completed, as well as at least 60 certifi cates from Tooling U-SME courses. This goes a long way with business and industry, and Tooling U-SME has had a great impact on our program.


Spreading Across the State More than 500 CTE classrooms participated in the pilot phase of this initiative, which included more than 13,000 stu- dents. By the 2016–2017 academic year, all CTE programs in West Virginia will take part in the program, where students run the simulated business. It’s not news to most in manufacturing that the skills gap is expected to create a shortage of nearly two million quali- fi ed workers by 2025. The continued evolution of tools and technologies coupled with baby boomer retirements only adds fuel to the fi re, which is cause for an immediate need to train the future workforce so they are ready to meet the demands of the industry. Implementing programs like West Virginia’s simulated workplace initiative is a step in the right direction, and a move that will, over time, help fi ll the pipeline of highly-skilled, professional talent. With Simulated Workplace, we see that students are


more accountable and engaged, and manufacturers like the end product.


Kevin Sands Machine Tool Technology Instructor United Technical Center Clarksburg, WV


September 2016 | AdvancedManufacturing.org 111


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