AM News regularly seeks stories on projects and programs that help additive manufacturing and materials technicians stay competitive in a rapidly changing job market. The need for well-qualified technicians is a challenge for many industries. As a National Science Foundation grant, The National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) is hard at work to bring materials technology education and resources to the nation.
MatEdU is a TEAMM Collaboration member and earlier this year published a case study on a successful internship collaboration project between academia and industry. This project provides a range of real-life learning experiences that benefit the student and gives educational institutions ways to provide skilled technicians needed by industry.
Development of Collaborative Internship Model and Partnership with Boeing
Here are some of the issues identified by MatEdU as pressing challenges in the field of materials science technology:
- The current workforce needs advanced skills to develop new products and infuse legacy products with advanced manufacturing practices using cutting edge materials and technologies and advanced industrial processes;
- The current aging workforce is retiring at a time when the number of technical jobs is increasing;
- New workers must be attracted and must develop skills to flexibly meet continuously evolving manufacturing industry demand.
In order to start working on these challenges, MatEdU, Edmonds Community College, and The Boeing Company together proactively developed a Collaborative Internship Model as a strategy for addressing the need for skilled technicians in the aerospace workforce. Research by The Boeing Company looked at the following kinds of needs assessment questions:
- How many engineers, scientists, and technicians do we need in our foreseeable future?
- What skills and knowledge will they need?
- How do we attract the next generation technical workforce that possesses a much broader multi-disciplinary and systems engineering perspective?
- How should we enhance our technical educational system?
- How do we attract and retain a student population reflecting the demographics of our diverse society?
After identifying core challenges from the research findings, a pilot program was designed and developed in collaboration with academic (MatEdU and Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, WA; Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA) and industrial partners (The Boeing Company, and Boeing’s Materials and Process Technologies division, Seattle, WA) and implemented with a two-year community college in the professional technical division.
Known as the Educational Experiential Learning Exposure Internship (EELEI) , the program was targeted at closing the technician workforce gap. With the increasing use of advanced composite materials in the design, testing, and repair of products like the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing has a constant need for qualified and experienced materials science technicians to replace a specific segment of its aging technical workforce. The Collaborative Internship Model supports and complements the Materials Science Technology (MST) program, a 2-year Associate of Applied Science-Transfer degree focused on materials science technology at Edmonds Community College.
Since 2008 approximately 74 students have successfully completed the internship program. About 45 interns have been hired full time. About 10 interns have gone on to a 4 -year institution – five of those are still with Boeing. Prior to 2015 most of the interns worked part time by having their summer internships extended until graduation.
If you want to check out a number of the MatEdU Resources, then visit this specific Instructional Resources page where you will find a number of categories. To find this paper, scroll down to the last section: Papers & Publications and then “MatEdU Collaborative Internship: a Case Study of our collaborative internship model for education and industry” is listed there.
Or simply download it directly here (depending on your web browser and settings, the file may automatically download or your computer may ask you if you want to download it).