The Beginning Synergy
During a conference in Washington D.C. in 2004, community and technical college leaders from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky were discussing their various automotive manufacturing training programs and services. The seed of the idea to develop a cooperative effort across college boundaries, state lines, and competing company interests was germinated by this conversation. It became clear that there would be a beneficial synergy in sharing best practices and resources.
NSF ATE Planning Grant
After several attempts to obtain approval for a funding proposal to the National Science Foundation Advanced Technical Education program, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) as the fiscal agent and lead partner was awarded an NSF Planning Grant for an automotive manufacturing project. The purpose of the planning grant was to establish if colleges and companies across state lines would in fact come together to benefit the development of the future workforce.
In April of 2005, KCTCS hosted a meeting of community and technical colleges, and a wide spectrum of automotive manufacturing companies, both OEM’s and suppliers. The companies sent 28 representatives, and colleges from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Kentucky sent 27 representatives. The overwhelming consensus was that there is a strategic national economic imperative to cooperate to better prepare the skilled workers required in this critical economic sector.
The Emergence of AMTEC
The companies and colleges who participated in the April 2005 conference formed the initial founding partnership. In August of 2005, the initial Policy Board met and developed a consensus around the collaborative name, the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative (AMTEC). The group also developed the mission and vision, and the primary goals and outcomes.
Over the next few months several additional colleges and companies were informed of the growing collaborative, with some expressing interest but deciding they wanted to be affiliated but could not commit to being a core partner. In the end, twelve leading community and technical colleges and 18 automotive manufacturing companies in eight leading automotive manufacturing states made up the core partner membership.
Application for a National Center of Excellence in Automotive Manufacturing
This group of partners, led by KCTCS, made application to the NSF ATE program for funding to be a National Center of Excellence for Automotive Manufacturing. The application sought to develop a three step implementation plan:
- Verify with automotive manufacturers the actual worker skill and knowledge competencies required for success in the industry, building on existing skills competency work to the degree possible;
- Identify the tools that measure success in achieving these competencies, administer the measurement in the partner colleges, and document the highest performing programs in achieving the competencies
- Identify the unique programs, methods, and processes in use by these highest performing programs, and then disseminate these through PD academies, conferences, and publications.
The application received overall high marks and AMTEC received a two-year project grant to begin the building blocks to create a National Center. In October 2008 AMTEC reapplied for National Center funding and received approval to begin operating as a national center September 15, 2009.
Alamo Colleges To Share in $15 Million Grant To Fund Training of High Tech Manufacturing Workers
In 2012, one of AMTEC college partners receives a TAACCCT grant to be used to implement curricula and purchase training equipment. The article below shows where AMTEC was at the time and how funds were being used to further education.
As part of a multi-state consortium, the Alamo Colleges will receive $1.15 million to train workers for high tech manufacturing jobs. The Alamo Colleges has been selected a leader college and will be one of 13 community colleges in the U.S. awarded funds through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative. The funds will be used to implement curricula and purchase training equipment that meets the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative (AMTEC) manufacturing curriculum. AMTEC developed a mechatronics curriculum for the U.S . auto industry that has been endorsed by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that combines mechanical, electronic, computer, software, control and systems design engineering in order to design and manufacture useful products. An industrial robot is a prime example of a mechatronics system.
The AMTEC partners work with the automotive industry to develop effective training programs that can be used across manufacturing in industrial maintenance applications. Henry Ford Community College is the lead institution for the consortium, which also includes eleven other community colleges in addition to Alamo Colleges. They are: Bluegrass Community and Technical College and Jefferson Community and Technical College in Kentucky; Bridgemont Community College in West Virginia; Danville Community College in Virginia; CARCAM/Gadsden State Community College in Alabama; Oakland Community College in Michigan; Pellissippi State Community College and Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro in Tennessee; Rhodes State College in Ohio; and Rock Valley Community College in Illinois.
The Henry Ford/U.S. Department of Labor grant will provide funds to Alamo Colleges to implement the competency-based, industry-driven manufacturing curricula already developed through a National Science Foundation grant. The AMTEC curricula is designed to accelerate and contextualize learning for multi-skilled mechatronics technicians and maintenance workers in order to increase the number of students who earn college certifications. The curricula is largely based on modularized competency blocks that can be utilized as online, blended, or stand-alone modules.
“This grant responds directly to the requests for a ‘high level’ technician that the auto industry has been requesting,” said Alamo Colleges’ Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie. “The AMTEC curricula will be at the Advanced Certificate Level and Alamo Colleges will receive the curricula, lab equipment, faculty training and certification and technical support at no cost.”
At the Alamo Colleges, high quality education and low costs provide exceptional value to students and alumni who are major contributors to the economy and culture of our community. For more information, visit website at alamo.edu.
Expanding the Collaboration
AMTEC has made great strides expanding its college and industry partnerships around the United States. With over 50 college partners and over 30 industry partners existing in 15 states, we’ve also expanded from the Automotive Manufacturing industry into Aerospace, Chemical, Food, and Tool Manufacturing industries. AMTEC students from Alamo Colleges and Tennessee College of Applied Technology have graduated and been hired into Tier 1 companies such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Nissan North America.
We strive to continuously improve our curriculum to keep up with the dynamic needs of the industry. Last year we’ve made over 1,200 changes to our materials and 14 of our modules have been completely updated. A virtual simulator for students to practice with online is currently under development. This virtual simulator will be a great supplemental learning tool for students in between their scheduled lab time with the AMTEC simulator.