The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Tallahassee Community College offers forward momentum for Florida’s capital region manufacturers

Manufacturers in Florida’s capital region just got some forward momentum, thanks to a regional initiative targeted to provide high-quality, customized skills training for current and incumbent workers engaged in manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) made its official debut in August, 2010, and represents a cohesive partnership between government, TCC, and several industry partners located in the state’s northwest corridor.

Bruce Batton, program manager for AMTC, says the basis for establishing an advanced manufacturing training center, in a region where the pulse is predominantly politics or football, stems from the region’s robust manufacturing sector. Contrary to preconceived notions, Batton says Florida’s capital region offers potential for substantial growth. This potential combined with a growing need for a trained/skilled workforce prepared to work in high-tech manufacturing environments has been the foundation for establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. The Center is replete with training labs, classrooms and conference space, as well as a process development area for local companies and entrepreneurs, and was funded through a $1.8 million grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Army Research Office.

AMTC has several overarching goals/missions. One of its primary goals is to train and provide job-specific skills-based training to current and incumbent workers. The second is to provide a trained workforce for the manufacturing and industrial businesses located in Wakulla, Gadsden and Leon counties. The third goal is to attract new businesses to the area. “Our focus is to be adaptive to industry training needs, help people and the economy recover, and make the industry grow” Batton said.

Inauguration of the Center/ribbon cutting
with a welding torch
In terms of training, the Center focuses on three areas. The first is training in different processes with reference to composite materials made possible through the CEAM (Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials) grant from Florida State University. The second is advanced manufacturing which comprises training in CNC (computer numerical controlled) machines like industrial lathes, industrial mills, CNC simulators etc. The third area is the certified production technician training which prepares students to take the national MSSC (Manufacturing Skill Standards Council) Certified Production Technician (CPT) test that allows students to earn 15 credits towards the 2-year statewide engineering technology degree program developed by FLATE. The unique aspect of the curriculum framework is that it can be broken down into modules/individualized packages that tailor to specific training requirements based on the needs of a particular company/industry.

The Center’s target audience consists of traditional age students as well as current/incumbent workers. Given a predominantly lean manufacturing environment the Center is offering several courses during the Fall 2010 semester that are flexible, based on current industry needs, and geared to train/help current and incumbent workers get a job. These include six sessions of fundamentals in composite materials, day and evening courses in CNC machine lathe operation, and courses that prepare students to take any or all five components (quality, safety, maintenance awareness, production & processes, and employability skills) of the MSSC CPT certification. AMTC also offers courses in machine programming which includes master CAM operation, programmable logic controllers, blue print readings, using measurement gauges and all things associated with machine operation. All courses at the moment are noncredit courses, but AMTC is working with the college towards accredited certificate programs.

Generating interest in manufacturing and capturing interest in emerging technologies at an early stage is highly important. AMTC offers several summer camps for middle and high school students who are considering educational pathways in engineering technology related fields, or are looking for additional training for employment. AMTC has also begun discussions with local companies to start offering internship opportunities to current students/ones graduating from the program, and offers several CEAM and DOD based scholarships to students taking composite materials, or advanced manufacturing courses.

The courses and curriculum extend beyond the scope of a particular industry or profession. Batton describes them as a vehicle in providing industry-relevant training in a relatively short period, and giving students marketable skills to earn decent income. Its strength also lies in “offering a range of skills that are transferable across various industries.” For more information on the Center and current courses, contact Bruce Batton at BATTONB@tcc.fl.edu, or visit http://workforce.tcc.fl.edu. For information on the MSSC Production Technician Certification for the statewide engineering technology degree, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org/ET_Degree.