Front Range Community College (FRCC) is opening a new Center for Integrated Manufacturing in Longmont in the summer of 2019. This center will house the new Automation and Engineering Technology program (AET).
Recently the school applied for and was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to support the AET program.
The $494,777 grant will fund around 20% of the equipment needs of the AET program. The state-of-the-art process control and instrumentation training equipment will provide students with the skills to install, operate, and maintain process technology demanded in local industries.
The new manufacturing degrees offered by FRCC will provide students with hands-on training to become industrial automation and maintenance technicians with three certificates available, Machining, Electronics Engineering Technology, and Optics Technology.
The AET program was designed after manufacturing companies noted a critical need for skilled technicians.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates around 500,000 jobs are currently open and not being filled in the manufacturing industry. Projections estimate that this number will grow to 2-3.5 million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the next 5-6 years.
“The situation in Colorado is no different. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the lack of skilled workers is negatively impacting the manufacturing industry, which is seen as a critical part of Colorado’s future economic growth. Local manufacturers face the same ‘skills gap’, and have repeatedly urged FRCC to develop and expand technical programs like AET to provide training in these critical skills,” states FRCC faculty member and principal investigator on the program, Ken Floyd.
In response to the industry need, FRCC has devoted $6.2 million to create the Center for Integrated Manufacturing. And Floyd has been working with manufacturing companies to develop appropriate courses for the new AET program.
This NSF grant will play a major role in developing the FRCC program. “The project has the potential to increase the number of skilled industrial automation and maintenance technicians available to meet local workforce needs,” states the FRCC website.
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