New Technology - A Challenge for You?

Okay, it is certainly the case that faculty in two-year technician programs do have big (but exciting) challenges with respect to providing their students with the combination of knowledge and skills that technicians need now and will need in a workplace driven by new technology.  However, the depth and breadth of those challenges do not even come close to matching what that rolly-polly, happy go lucky, white-bearded super-senior citizen of the North Pole must deal with. Forget the possibility of just dealing with simultaneous technology change in one, two, or even three of the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education focused (advanced manufacturing technology, agricultural and bio-technologies, energy, environmental technology, information technology, micro & nanotechnologies, geospatial technology, and security technologies) areas, the S. Claus Organization has year-round activities that include all of these technologies.
 In addition, they have a workforce that never seems to age, and is very likely set in their ways as well as being a bit resistive to change. (Personally, I cannot see a happy outcome if S. Claus tried to replace the elves’ tiny toy hammer with a couple of robots).
 Plus, of course, S. Claus has a lead reindeer with a bright red nose that has always created and executed the optimal delivery logistics to assure a successful mission in one evening’s flight. (Can any other organization, including our beloved U.S Postal Service, do that?.). Absolutely, the magic of the North Pole will ensure that the elf’s work will remain influenced by new technology.
It is also certain, that we really do not know how this fantastic couple, twelve reindeer and the uncountable number of elves spend most of the year playing (you guessed it) reindeer games and are still able to learn everything they need to know to make enough toys for all the world’s children. What we also do not know is how many of the NSF-ATE focused technology areas that we support in our two-year degree programs will require the inclusion of cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills. The good news?  This cross-discipline integration will not be as far-reaching as it is at the North Pole and that special team will still be able to keep its heavy play-work balance.  The bad news?  The era of teaching the one discipline area we know and really love will soon become a thing of the past.
Finally, it is absolutely certain that I have taken full advantage of the season and really extended the having fun part of this blog series. I do appreciate you reaching this point in this month’s article and now there is a bit of thinking to do. From your program’s perspective, what new technology-driven cross skills do you already identify as important? What new knowledge and skillsets are becoming important to the industries that hire your students?  For the industry folks that follow this blog, can you identify any missing technical skills in your new technician hires that already impact your operations?  What are the cross-skills that you think will become important?
Returning to this Future of Work series operating premise:  "The work to do starts with you."  The goal is to affirm the core skills that are the foundation NSF-ATE supported technician programs and integrate any new skills and knowledge into those programs to optimally address the challenges that new technology or technologies bringing to the workplace. If there is to be national success with this mission, then input and guidance from a national perspective are required.  NSF-ATE is listening and can put its resources into action in response to what it hears.   Now is the time to speak up.  Think about the new skills and knowledge that student need now and in the future as well as the optimal time and place to include them in technical programs. Contact us. Send us your thoughts to

What’s coming up in the next edition? New Year resolutions of course!

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