APT Program at North Florida Community College Helps Students Get Industry Certified

In the previous story we highlighted the success of students at Nature Coast Technical High School. In
this story, we look at students from North Florida Community College (NFCC), and how they fared in earning the Manufacturing Skill Standards Counsel (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification.  Before delving into those specifics, let’s take a brief look at the program itself. The Automation and Production Technology (APT) program is a new program at NFCC that started with its first cohort of students in January 2015 with the receipt of a round three TAACCCT grant. The APT program is broken down into four completion points, with a targeted goal to prepare students to earn their MSSC CPT certification in the 18 weeks that this PSAV program runs. The program is designed to meet industry needs within the college district, and is targeted to provide relevant workforce training that includes industry-recognized credentials. (Source: NFCC Website). Course frameworks for the APT program follow FL DOE’s guidelines and add the opportunity to earn the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) (CPT) certification. NFCC has the commitment of numerous manufacturing industry partners to provide program support including the provision of tours of manufacturing facilities, guest speakers and content lecturers, conducting mock interviews, and providing hiring opportunities to students who successfully complete the course.

“There is a tremendous need going forward for skilled qualified technicians” said Bill Eustace, APT
instructor at NFCC. As an educator and a 40 year employee of the manufacturing trades, Eustace states “it is important to pass on the knowledge gained to students so they are prepared to enter the technical fields.” The first cohort of 17 students started the program in January 2015. Of the 17, ten earned full MSSC CPT which included an assessment in Safety, Quality and Precision Measurement, Production Processes, and Maintenance Awareness. Nine of those that had attained full completion rate also opted for a fifth certification in Green Production and passed that one as well. Remaining four students earned three of the four certifications needed to complete the full CPT, with three withdrawing from the program for various reasons. “It is essential to maintain a core of knowledgeable employees in the technical positions otherwise companies will outsource and jobs will be lost” Eustace said. 

Looking to the future, NFCC is working with Mentor-Connect to write a proposal for an NSF
grant. Mentor-Connect is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project housed by SC ATE, an NSF ATE Center of Excellence in South Carolina. “These are high skilled, high wage jobs that are in demand and need to be filled” said Associate Dean for Economic Development and Technical Programs, David Dunkle. Through these programs and initiatives Dunkle hopes “to attract more young people to the field of advanced manufacturing, and change the perception that many people hold.”

If the proposal for the grant is approved, NFCC plans to pilot a dual enrollment program in fall of 2015
through a cohesive partnership with Madison County High School and James Madison Preparatory High School. Contingent on grant approval, the initial cohort will include a cross-section of students representing rural, first-generation in college, minority, and female participants. NFCC plans to include twenty students in this group. Using the Madison County students as a pilot group, NFCC will collect evaluative data and assess the project’s success. At the conclusion of the three-year project, NFCC plans to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the possibility for expanding the project district-wide. “This prospect is especially exciting as we attempt to open more doors and pathways for our high school students” Dunkle said.

For more information about NFCC’s APT program contact William Eustace at eustaceb@nfcc.edu/850.973.1670 and David Dunkle at dunkled@nfcc.edu/850.973.9440. For information on FLATE’s secondary and post-secondary curriculum visit www.madeinflorida.org, and www.fl-ate.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.