MSSC Paves Pathway for Students in Manatee County to Get Industry Certified

Students at Lakewood Ranch High School (LRHS) in Manatee County, FL attained forward momentum this spring thanks to the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) assessment that has created a cohesive pathway for high school students to become industry certified. Doug Wagner, director for career and technical education at the school district of Manatee County says it’s no longer just about the skills. Today “workers need to have the educational as well as the technical credentials, and be able to apply the academic know-how to solve technical problems.”

Indeed, industry certifications form a core component in paving a pathway to high-tech, high-wage job in the modern manufacturing environment. From the things you wear, to the things you eat, see and sit upon, Wagner says there is a product that relates back to manufacturing and/or STEM. Now more than ever, students need to be educated about exciting and rewarding career choices, and educators play an integral role in striking the connection between industry certifications, manufacturing and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Greg McGrew, engineering technology instructor at LRHS has taken measurable strides in establishing a connection between technical, academic and practical skills, and in getting students industry certified. McGrew has served in this capacity for the past 15 years, and has been a driving force in creating excitement among students to become industry certified. His forte as an educator lies is his prowess as a motivator, and in his technical skills. He motivates students by celebrating their successes. He is also big on showcasing the connection between education, business, industry and solid career opportunities, and has led the way by becoming industry certified prior to his students. From building and designing cardboard chairs using SolidWorks, building carbon dioxide powered dragsters, constructing boats/floatation devices, or welding projects that involve creation of a 9 ft steel horse, McGrew has spearheaded numerous projects that combine hands-on learning with classroom curriculum.

Eugene Helfrick & Alec Bacon
First high school students
in Manatee County to earn
the MSSC CPT Certification
One of his major accomplishments undoubtedly has been his effort to encourage students to take the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) assessment. In the last two years since McGrew has administered the MSSC testing, enrollment into the engineering technology program at LRHS has increased significantly. A total of 63 LRHS students have taken at least one of the MSSC CPT assessments. Forty eight percent of the students passed Safety, 74% passed Manufacturing Processes and Production, 75% passed Quality Practices and Continuous Improvement, and 73% passed the Maintenance modules. Among them, Eugene Helfrick and Alec Bacon passed all four parts of the MSSC CPT certification this spring, and became the first high school students in Manatee County to earn the CPT certification. Eugene Helfrick plans to attend UCF School of Engineering, and Alec Bacon who was accepted into the US Naval Academy plans to pursue a career as a naval engineer.

Industry certifications like the MSSC offer tremendous benefits and perform a two-fold function. For the students, it provides a competitive edge to prove their credentials to prospective employers, and serves as a credential to obtain internships, summer jobs, or other job opportunities after post secondary education. For manufacturers, it offers a pathway to ensure students’/incumbent workers’ knowledge, skills and ability to become productive employees. As an added bonus, students who get MSSC certified also qualify for CAPE funding ($1200 per student depending on where you are located in the state) from the Florida Department of Education.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council is a nationwide, industry-led organization that focuses on building foundational skills and knowledge needed by workers in the nation's advanced manufacturing sector. It offers manufacturing production workers the opportunity to demonstrate they have mastered the skills increasingly needed in the high-growth, technical jobs of the 21st century. FLATE has embedded the MSSC Skills Standards into the Engineering Technology (ET) A.S. /A.A.S. Technical Core that consists of 18 credit hours and covers CADD, Electronics, Measurements, Processes, Quality, and Safety. Upon completion of these courses, students can earn an 18 credit hour college certificate, and be prepared to take the MSSC skills tests to earn the national certification. To enhance this pathway, FLATE in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education and their industry working group, has also developed a new secondary program curriculum framework that allows high school students currently enrolled in career and technical programs and/or related areas that are aligned with MSSC Skills to have those credits applied to an ET Degree anywhere in Florida.

For information on LRHS contact Doug Wagner Doug Wagner at For information on FLATE’s statewide ET degree and the MSSC Skill Standards contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at, or visit