Missouri State University-West Plains has received a $198,557 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bolster its advanced manufacturing training programs at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).
The funds were awarded through the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education Mentor-Connect Program. They will be used to develop new advanced manufacturing curricula and upgrade training equipment to address the area’s workforce shortage in middle-skill industrial maintenance technicians, university officials said.
“With a focus on advanced industrial maintenance, manufacturing and alternative energy, the curriculum redesign will use stackable courses and a combination of project-based learning, hands-on computer simulations and real laboratory environments to model the industrial workplace,” officials said in the grant proposal.
Adapting to changes
Noting how manufacturing jobs have changed through the years with advancements in manufacturing processes, university officials pointed out educators must adapt current formats, degree contents and training programs to accommodate those changes.
To that end, university officials are using the grant funds to develop three new courses and update four current courses which can be taken to fulfill the requirements of a new Advanced Industrial Maintenance option in the Associate of Applied Science in Technology degree or a certificate in Advanced Industrial Maintenance.
Students successfully completing either the degree option or certificate program will be prepared to take the Festo 4.0 Level 1 Fundamentals Certification exam, an industry-recognized credential in advanced manufacturing, according to Jim Hart, assistant professor of technology. Certified students will then be able to continue their education with stackable Level 2 and Level 3 courses and certifications, he added.
Internships and registered apprenticeships with industry partners, which will build the students’ workforce readiness, also will be a part of the Advanced Industrial Maintenance program, he added.
“The equipment, software and training received through this grant will enable us to offer nationally accepted certifications to our students in order to prepare them for today’s technician careers, as well as the future’s,” Hart said.
For more information about the grant or the new Advanced Industrial Maintenance program, contact Hart at 417-255-7296 or JHart@MissouriState.edu.
For more information about Missouri State-West Plains and its academic programs, visit wp.missouristate.edu or call 417-255-7955.