In 2006, the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) commissioned a study to analyze the skilled trade’s gap in Virginia manufacturing. The study revealed a significant expected shortfall in skilled workers between 2007 and 2012. As a result, the Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills (VCATS) with its manufacturing partners was tasked to develop this training program. ECPI University is the exclusive academic partner of the VMA for the delivery of this training.
Each student will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he/she has obtained the learning outcomes of the program by successfully completing the VCATS assessment. This assessment tool has been third-party validated for its accuracy in measuring 12 critical technical skills: algebra; measurement; math for quality; spatial reasoning; mechanics; fluid power and thermodynamics; electricity; chemistry; manufacturing processes and controls; quality and lean manufacturing; statistical process control (SPC); and business acumen. ECPI’s manufacturing technician training provides the knowledge and skills required to pass the VCATS assessment to become recognized as either a Manufacturing Specialist (MS) or Manufacturing Technician (MT), which are both recognized by manufacturing companies and other advanced technology industries. VCATS MS and MT certifications validate that a student has the necessary skills for careers in advanced technology industries such as manufacturing, health care technology, robotics, and biotechnology.
The Manufacturing Technician Training program was developed to meet the growing employment demands of the manufacturing industry for the Manufacturing Specialist (MS) and Manufacturing Technician (MT) and includes the three areas of competency:
- Math and Measurement
- Quality & Business Acumen
- Spatial Reasoning & Manufacturing Technology
Each of the three competency areas has a corresponding VCATS assessment. Students successfully passing the Math and Measurement and the Spatial Reasoning and Manufacturing Technology assessments will result in MS certification. Passing all three assessments will result in MT certification. A unique component of the training program is that it also includes a module on soft skills development such as teamwork and workplace behaviors.
This training program includes 10 training modules designed to build upon each other to ensure that the three areas of competency, math and measurement, quality and business acumen, and spatial reasoning and manufacturing technology, are adequately covered to meet the requirements for VCATS certification. Each training module is 10 clock hours, and the total program is 100 clock hours.
- Overview of Manufacturing: This training module provides an overview of the course and an introduction to manufacturing processes. The module centers on a site visit to a manufacturing facility to provide the context for the entire course and focuses on the processes involved in producing a product. Students are exposed to the various technical jobs, manufacturing roles and responsibilities, and how production is managed.
- Teamwork and Workplace Behaviors: This training module provides learners with exposure to concepts central to understanding the value of teamwork and other work behaviors. The learning objectives include the awareness of key concepts of teamwork and workplace behaviors, demonstration of methods and behaviors that facilitate teamwork, and the ability to conduct self-assessment of teamwork and workplace behaviors.
- Mechanics & Spatial Reasoning: This training module focuses on the mechanical advantage gained with pulleys, levers and gears. Students will learn how pulleys provide a mechanical advantage, and then learn about levers and formal concepts of force. Students will advance to learn how the mechanical advantage of levers relates to wheels and gears and how gears are used in basic mechanical systems. In addition to mechanical principles, the module also provides instruction to develop spatial reasoning skills necessary to visualize how three dimensional objects are represented in two dimensional drawing and visualizing how basic mechanisms work.
- Thermodynamics & Fluid Power: This training module focuses on thermodynamics and fluid power. Students will create a vacuum to learn about air pressure and its effects on temperature and the volume of objects and will examine how changing pressure and temperature affect volume and vice versa. Students will also study fluid power, learn the underlying principles of pneumatic and hydraulic power, and learn the core principles of thermal energy including conduction, convection, and radiation.
- Electricity I:This training module focuses on the relationship of electricity and magnetism and how this relationship is used to generate electricity and generate the force used in electric motors. Students will conduct several projects and experiments including making electrical magnets and a solenoid and building an electric motors and generator.
- Electricity II (CASTLE Program):This training module focuses on the CASTLE (Capacitor-Aided System for Teaching & Learning Electricity) program. CASTLE is designed to engage student interest through hands-on investigation, overcome misconceptions, and foster development of effective explanatory models pertaining to electricity. The heart of the CASTLE program is a sequence of experiments with light bulbs, batteries, and specially designed capacitors that will help you build models and revise them toward greater explanatory power.
The CASTLE program emphasizes circuits in order to provide students a setting for hands-on inquiry that are intensely interesting and are well suited to step-by-step model building.
- Controls: This training module provides students with the opportunity to learn how relay circuits work and how they are used to control both simple and complex processes. A key element of the module is the development of “Prototype Project” in which students will create and operate a device to automatically control a water pump. The intention of this project and the focus on relays is to develop a viable mental model of a real control system that can be used as a “prototype” to build upon as the students learn more complex systems. The module also introduces you to computer controlled systems and provides experience in actually creating a computer program to control a device.
- Chemistry: This training module focuses on Chemistry and students will learn the differences between elements, compounds and mixtures, basics of atomic structure, the periodic table and how it is organized, how elements combine to form compounds (chemical bonding), concepts of acids and bases, how electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cells work, and how to make polymers.
- Quality & Math for Quality: This module provides instruction on quality management using exercises and discussions. Students will apply the quality concepts and principles to mock processes practiced in group activities. These core concepts include lean manufacturing, total preventive maintenance (TPM), 5S, value stream mapping, DMAIC, and the basic concepts of statistical process control (SPC). In addition to Quality concepts, the module teaches the underlying mathematical concepts and principles used in quality systems.
- Business Acumen: This training module provides an overview of business acumen. The module centers on starting and operating a simple company to provide the context for the financial actions, strategies and decisions involved in running a company. Students are exposed to the various financial terms, key financial documents, and how actions, strategies and decisions impact the bottom line.
Upon completion of the 10 training modules, the student will be issued a Manufacturing Technician Training Program certificate of completion. In addition, students will also take VCATS assessments in order to achieve either MS or MT certification.