T-SEC Powers Job Skills Training in 3D Printing at SUNY Rockland
3D print lab and jobs skills
The outlines of the problem are so visible as to be obvious: In the Hudson Valley, as in many parts of the world, manufacturing jobs are plentiful but people with the necessary job skills to fill those jobs have become scarcer than the proverbial hen’s teeth.
Technology is creating sweeping advances in how the tech products we use every day, like our mobile devices, are manufactured.
All the world over, flat-screen TVs, medical devices, solar panels, and food processing equipment are needed and require the flexibility of ever-evolving advanced manufacturing techniques.
3D printing essential to advanced manufacturing
Local economic growth has long been driven by a strong manufacturing sector.
Now, 3D printing is one of the components of advanced manufacturing that has become an essential feature of any advanced manufacturing fabrication shop’s equipment stack.
It allows designers and engineers to quickly prototype and test design and engineering concepts so that the equipment that is manufactured works as it is intended to.
But 3D printing equipment is costly and calls for entirely different job skills than, say, injection molding.
So, how does the Hudson Valley get a workforce ready with the job skills needed by area advanced manufacturers?
That’s where collaboration comes in.
The Strategic Economic Consortium (T-SEC), through partnerships with community colleges around the Hudson Valley, has established various opportunities within 3-D printing by providing equipment at select college campuses.
3D print lab available to educators, students, and regional manufacturers and businesses
In particular, SUNY Rockland has a T-SEC funded 3D print lab at its Haverstraw extension campus, making access to, and training on the technology available to educators, students, and the regional manufacturing and business communities.
The right equipment is, of course, essential! T-SEC’s 3D Print center at The Haverstraw Center boasts several 3D printers, including the state of the art Stratasys J750.
And, Stratasys is no stranger to fostering career and technical programs. They know that today’s students will be tomorrow’s employees and offer educators many kinds of resources, including:
- Education packages, which they describe here.
- Student certification in Additive Manufacturing which they describe here.
- Partnerships with resellers for the right equipment which they describe here.
The right job skills
To make it all work, however, preparing students with the right job skills is crucial.
And now the Haverstraw Center at Rockland Community College — a SUNY/T-SEC partner since 2013 — is turning out trained CAD and 3-D printing professionals and transforming lives in the process.
To Learn More About the 3D Print Center Read About It here
According to Dr. Penny Jennings, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives (Career Skills and WorkforceDevelopent TrainingPrograms) Dr. Baston, the President of the college, had the vision to train and prepare people for ‘middle skills’ jobs, that don’t require a college degree but do require a very specific skill set.
Dr. Baston had a desire to focus on and understand the needs of employers and employees in order to create well-designed programs that would help employers find workers and employees find jobs.
A middle-skills training at program at SUNY Rockland to prepare a workforce
Jennings, whose current job title at the college is Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives (Career Skills & Workforce Development Training Programs), saw both the need and the possibilities.
“Advanced manufacturing and computer repair currently account for 54 percent of the labor market, but only 44 percent of workers are trained for it.
We wanted to create a model that could offer short certification tracks.”
The school saw saw the potential for multiple benefits.
“Manufacturers need this; in fact, they embrace it. There is a phenomenon that is occurring right now, which some are calling the silver exodus, where a lot of people who have these skills are retiring at the same time. People are in desperate need of the certificate programs offered at RCC’s Career Skills Academy.
In the lower Hudson Valley, the cost of living is incompatible with a typical entry-level wage. You can’t raise a family here on $14 an hour; you’re lucky if you can rent a studio apartment,” Jennings said.
A quick glance at Indeed.com indicates over 200 job postings for CAD professionals, with salaries in the mid to high five figures.
Launching a Career Skills Academy
The Career Skills Academy offering a class in 3D printing and design equipment at the Haverstraw Center was able to enhance the utilization of T-SEC’s 3D Print Lab.
Under the urging of Dr. Baston, the Career Skills Academy was up and running by January, 2019 offering certification tracks in IT support, auto under-car tech, social media entrepreneurship, and CAD drafting and 3D modeling,
“One of the more successful tracks has been the CAD/3D training,” says Jennings.
With equipment provided by T-SEC, RCC is able to offer this in-demand class to the business and entrepreneurial community alongside students and instructors.
Furthermore, for its launch, T-SEC located and funded a CAD, Solidworks trained coordinator who was both able to teach students and work with the business community looking to prototype, another function of the T-SEC funded 3D print lab.
Part of the agreement that host partners such as RCC Haverstraw agree to is allowing T-SEC to market the equipment on campus (whether that is a manufacturing campus or a college campus) to Hudson Valley businesses so that they may test drive, so to speak, 3D printing without going out of pocket for equipment that might not be a business fit.
Building a virtuous cycle
Whether working with businesses enabling them to prototype or training students for future jobs, the program helps build a virtuous cycle, as, overall, and true to T-SEC’s mission, a workforce is developed.
One of the first groups of students to take the program spring of 2019, aside from one who moved away and another who is pursuing a career in animation, every single student found employment.
One happy graduate is Monroe resident Amanda Dineen.
“My dad is an engineer and I have a BA in art,” she says, “and I wanted to expand into 3D modeling and computer programming, by getting those job skills.
I took a look at Rockland and found this; in two months, they taught us CAD and Excel, and a month later I found a job.”
Hired upon completion: 3D print job skills the market is looking for
As a design assistant at Creative Design Construction, she services the computer systems used by architects at the award-winning New Jersey-based firm to create everything from bathroom remodels to entire homes and says she feels well-equipped for the future.
“I needed to figure something out, and you have to start somewhere, but this program was enormously helpful in equipping me to start with something I enjoy and can grow in,” she says.
“I have a thorough understanding of the programs and I’ll be able to teach myself other ones based on what I’ve learned. I talked to one of my former classmates the other day, and he loves his job too.”
Jennings says the Career Skills Academy’s short-term job skills training programs are a really good fit for the conditions facing both employers and career-seekers on the ground.
“Community college enrollment is down, and to be of service we need to adapt to the changing times,” she says. “One in five jobs created in the next four years is going to be a middle-skills job; once you understand 3D printing and IT and can build and troubleshoot programs, you can go anywhere,” she explained.
In fact, nationwide trends reveal it is no longer typical for someone to leave school and find one single job that and then remain the same for 30 years.
As a result, the trend in education is to give people portable skills and portable tool kits so they can have mobility. Training in the latest 3D printing echnology enhances that ability.