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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Training to manage the machines

Gerry Naranjo, center, works with younger classmates at Macomb Community College. Laid off at 56, the former manager is learning robotics to “re-establish relevance.” Photo: Emily Jan/Atlantic

Manufacturers are working with Michigan community colleges to redesign career technical education, reports Emily DeRuy in The Atlantic. Automation is coming, but employers need workers who can “manage the machines doing the work.”

At Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, three students “stare intently at a machine that helps move panels along a conveyor belt,” she writes.

. . .  after several moments of careful inspection, the students exchange a few ideas, make a couple of swift adjustments to the machine, and earn a nod of approval from an instructor standing nearby. The group has correctly identified an issue with a sensor that the teacher intentionally created to test the students’ problem-solving prowess. . . . “I was sick of standing at a machine and doing the same thing all day,” said Brad Grappin, 30.

Not far away at Macomb Community College, instructors have “changed the curriculum close to a dozen times in the last four years in response to feedback from employers,” writes DeRuy.  Colleges are putting “more emphasis on critical thinking and collaboration, and on demystifying the technology that powers today’s manufacturing systems.”

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