Romeo High School to implement college and career academies as first designated Ford NGL district in state

Over the past two years, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development (MCPED) has been working with partners to explore and create a foundation for implementing college and career academies at Romeo High School with support from the Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) network. The result will be standing up various academies that emphasize career exploration, experiential learning and college readiness rather than perfecting the art of standardized test taking. While Ford has NGL communities throughout the country, this will be the first designated district in the state of Michigan.

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Our department sees this effort as a way to prepare the next generation to meet workforce demands. This transformation is currently in the planning phase, and implementation is scheduled for the 2019 school year. MCPED serves as the community convening organization. As such, some of our responsibilities include supporting successful government, academic and business collaboration; building credibility in the community and gaining support; and focusing on business and community development.

Over 50 stakeholders make up the program’s steering committee. Our department helps advise this committee about current industry trends and in-demand jobs and promotes the county’s 10 targeted industries (automotive, advanced manufacturing, defense, food and agriculture, health care and social assistance, information technology and cybersecurity, logistics and warehousing, professional services, and retail) to businesses, community organizations, teachers, parents and academia.

Romeo_High_SchoolBy examining the local area, the businesses located there, who is hiring and what kind of talent is needed, a determination can be made as to what career pathways ought to be offered for that specific area. The steering committee is examining these options and will help determine the top career academies best suited to offer in the Romeo community.

While core studies will still be taught in the classroom, they will be incorporated into the larger career pathways. For example, a student in the automotive academy would learn the futuristic technologies of autonomous vehicles through studying a blend of information technology, robotics, computer science and engineering. The result is that students will receive extended hands-on exposure to different careers, empowering them to make informed career choices.

In addition to Ford, other local businesses are a necessary part of this framework. They offer externships to the high school teachers, enabling them to spend time at the business so they can better understand the industry and teach it to students. Industry experts are also welcomed to teach in the classroom, working hand in hand with teachers.

The ultimate goal is to build a model for other schools to replicate, with eventually every district in Macomb County offering some form of college and career academy.

If your business is interested in attending steering committee meetings, or if you are a school looking to enter the exploratory phase of implementing the NGL framework, please contact our department at (586) 469-5285.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in business outreach and communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Velocity introduces hacking tools in cyber training course

The Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range offers those looking to hone their offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills the opportunity to do so at the next Guided Capture the Flag course June 15.

This daylong program enables students to engage in live attacks on networked systems in a secured environment. Students will learn the fundamentals of hacking tools, techniques and methodologies. Topics such as password exploitation and storage, proxy chaining and SQL vulnerabilities will be covered. This is a great starting point for anyone interested as it is tailored to each participant, allowing students to dig as deep into the exercise as they are able.

This capture the flag exercise is hosted on the Michigan Cyber Range, the nation’s largest unclassified training cyber range, and takes place in a virtual training environment known as Alphaville. This is a simulated town that includes a school, library, power and electric, private business and city hall. Alphaville was created by Nathan Dragun who is the instructor for this class as well as the director of development for the Michigan Cyber Range.

Dragun has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Western Michigan University. He has completed advanced training in network security and artificial intelligence and has more than 13 years of experience solving complex technical issues in areas of security, computer networking, software development and architectural design.

Guided Capture the Flag takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range, 6633 18 Mile Road, Sterling Heights, 48314. The cost is $625, and registration information can be found at www.oakland.edu/macombouinc/cyber-institute/education. There are no pre-qualifications to enroll. For more information, contact Joan Carleton at macinc@oakland.edu or (586) 884-9324.

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Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in business outreach and communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

STEM education fuels Macomb County’s defense industry

“Macomb County is the defense capital. We build things to protect those who protect us.”

These are the words that Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel uses to tout the strength of the defense industry here in Macomb County. With first-class Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security installations and a robust advanced manufacturing industrial base, Macomb County has all the components necessary to be a global leader in national security.

Vital to the success of Macomb County’s defense industry is top tier STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent. Scientific advancement and engineering prowess are what have kept and will continue to keep the U.S. Armed Forces at the forefront of conventional and unconventional military capabilities. In order to stay at the forefront, and to keep our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen safe, as well as “to provide for the common defense” as stated in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, STEM talent is of great importance.

selfridge_1With future prospects for security in mind, Selfridge Air National Guard Base hosted the second of a three-part event spanning St. Clair, Macomb and Wayne counties on May 19 called Inspiring the Next Generation. This event was designed to showcase potential career options in the defense industry for local high school STEM students.

Students had the opportunity to work with robotics controls, experience a flight simulator from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Aviation, solder wires on an F-35 Lightning II model and hear from representatives from General Dynamics Land Systems, Women in Aviation and the Misty Blues All Women Skydiving Team on what it means to work in the defense industry and aviation.

Over 500 STEM students from Anchor Bay School District, Chippewa Valley School District, Warren Woods Public Schools, Center Line Public Schools and Utica Community Schools participated in the event.

Rochon, Daniel IMG_0069Dan Rochon works for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development as an associate planner in economic development services.

Department seeks Manufacturing Day hosts and sponsors

MFG Day 2016 AOne of the goals of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is to strengthen the county’s workforce by exposing the next generation to a wide range of in-demand career opportunities. Our efforts continue to grow and are demonstrated through a variety of different programs, one of which is Manufacturing Day.

National Manufacturing Day is an initiative that gives manufacturers the opportunity to open their doors to show the public how advanced the industry has become. Our department first participated in 2013 when Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel led the media on a tour of local plants that culminated with a roundtable discussion with area manufacturers.

It was at this event that we learned that one of the greatest concerns of manufacturers is the need for talent. We also learned that there was a concern about the number of young people who were exposed to the industry and the interesting and well-paying careers that it offers.

MFG Day 2016 BHearing this, department staff collaborated with the Macomb Intermediate School District to get students from every high school on buses and into local plants to see the industry in action. Since 2014, more than 5,500 students have participated.

Plans are underway for the next Manufacturing Day which will be held Friday, Oct. 6. The department seeks area manufacturers who are willing to host tours for students and sponsors to help cover event expenses. To learn more, visit www.MacombBusiness.com/mfgday.

Zardis, Maria IMG_0089Maria Zardis is the program manager of the Business Outreach and Communications Group for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

In Macomb County, MI Bright Future eases talent fears

MI Bright Future picture 2Businesses across Macomb County and southeast Michigan are slowly coming to an alarming realization: The workers they depend on are approaching retirement, and there are few, if any, in the talent pipeline ready to replace them. This unsettling epiphany has left many regional employers inspired to take action in the hopes of heading off the incoming talent drought, but there is just one problem. While some companies, whether through luck or ingenuity, have figured out how to begin developing future talent, many businesses’ good intentions go unfulfilled because they simply do not know how to convert their enthusiasm into action. If you are one of the many employers feeling this way, powerless in the face of a reduced skilled workforce, or if you just want to expand your talent development efforts, MI Bright Future is for you.

MI Bright Future is a revolutionary talent development initiative currently underway in Macomb County and the greater southeast Michigan region. Through the initiative, participating employers connect directly with 118,000 students through an easy-to-use online portal to offer career guidance and education advice. Macomb County has been on the forefront of this initiative since the very beginning and is eagerly looking for more employers to partner with MI Bright Future to interact with students. In Macomb County alone, there are already over 33,000 students currently engaging with the system. One Macomb County business, Medstar Ambulance, was so eager to connect with students they recently became a contributing sponsor of the program! This enthusiasm is widely shared throughout the community, as over 230 companies and 330 career coaches have already registered to serve. And while that may sound like a lot, it’s not enough!

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Why isn’t it enough? Because it is no secret that as times change, so too do the talent and skill demands of industry, and despite the educational system’s best efforts, they struggle to keep up. The ensuing disconnect between the demands of a modern economy and the curriculum of contemporary education leaves students unaware of not only the many job opportunities that exist in southeast Michigan, but more importantly the skills and credentials employers need. MI Bright Future bridges this gap by establishing a digital meeting place for professionals and students to interact directly with one another, and the more employers in the system, the more students that can be steered in the proper direction! By cutting through the red tape that has traditionally separated students from the professional world, MI Bright Future provides companies, who are the true experts in their field, the chance to educate students with real-time information about their industry, while also recruiting top-quality talent to their business.

MI Bright Future picture 3If MI Bright Future sounds a bit too good to be true, prepare to be even more amazed, because signing up for MI Bright Future is not only free, but a company’s level of engagement is entirely up to them. That means a business can do as much, or as little, as they like. From doing no more than posting a company profile to boost community awareness of their business, to registering career coaches to answer student questions on online discussion boards or offering work-based learning activities such as internships and guest speaking—even becoming a contributing sponsor like Medstar Ambulance—options range widely so a company is free to engage however they see fit.

MI Bright Future is for both those hoping to recruit young talent to their industry and those simply wishing to make a positive impact on the lives of young Michiganders. To register, visit mibrightfuture.org and complete the registration form that best suits your preference. Registrants may elect to register their company as a whole, or register only themselves as career coaches independent of their business. If you have any questions during the registration process, please contact the MI Bright Future team at info@mibrightfuture.org.

Trevor Leatzow is a program assistant for MI Bright Future.

SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program fills skills gap

SME 1-cI had a chance to visit Wadsworth High School in Ohio to learn about SME (formally known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers) Education Foundation’s PRIME program which focuses on building centers of excellence in manufacturing education. PRIME stands for Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education, and that is exactly what SME is trying to do around the country – to bring back advanced manufacturing education during a time when there is a big shortage of in-demand skilled  talent in those positions, such as mechatronics, programming, welding, CNC machining, metrology and more.

There will be large amounts of retirees in the next decade with very few new employees getting into those trades. Businesses are worried about their futures, and schools are catching on that they are the first step to showing students what these jobs entail.

Through the PRIME program, SME Education Foundation handles communication between both the local industrial employers needing staff for positions they can’t fill and the schools that are training the students in those types of jobs. It is beneficial for both the schools and businesses for SME Education Foundation to take the lead on running the program because of the experience they have. They are also able to get the equipment at better prices while local employers fund the program as well as help   supply the equipment to the schools. Busy in the classroom, teachers would be unable to get the machines purchased and work on the needs of the employers to set up this program themselves.

SME 2-cWhen visiting Wadsworth High School, we were able to see the rooms set up for training. They had the newest equipment, and students were very excited to show us what they were working on and their understanding of the machines. There was a local employer there as well, boasting about how well the program works, specifically targeting employers’ needs for jobs that cannot be filled right now. Employers also like the fact that the students are well-rounded with additional skills before they get out of the program.

The students advised that they like the classes because they give them a chance to use their hands and learn with real equipment and parts instead of just books. The teachers say that this gives kids a different type of learning experience. Students are assigned projects where they have to think on their feet to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

PRIME gives students an understanding of whether or not they like this type of work. This has given many young adults who are not college-bound an opportunity for good jobs after high school. It also gives those who are going to college a better feel for what route they want to take. Some even decide to take different paths in college, such as engineering, that they would not have without their experience in the PRIME training. Additionally, employers are now able to have a long-term plan to fill their future job openings and have better communication with the local schools.

There is a serious effort to establish this program in Macomb County. If you are interested in more information, contact Stan Simik at ssimek@sme.org or Josh Cramer at jcramer@sme.org.

Josh Cramer, senior educational programs officer for SME, will make a presentation about PRIME for the Manufacturing Day Planning Committee. Readers who are interested in learning more about how to get involved are welcome to join from 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, March 21 at the Macomb Intermediate School District, Superior Room, 44001 Garfield Road, Clinton Township. Please send a quick email to maria.zardis@macombgov.org if you plan to attend.

Johns, Jack IMG_0030Jack Johns is a project coordinator for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development. He specializes in working with food, agriculture, energy, robotics, autonomous vehicle and retail businesses. If you are a business owner and would like to contact him, email jack.johns@macombgov.org or call (586) 469-6293.

Roseville High School students learn valuable workforce skills

In honor of Career and Technical Education Month, County Executive Mark A. Hackel, Department of Planning & Economic Development Director John Paul Rea and other department staff toured the Auto Tech Department at Roseville High School. This impressive and growing program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It teaches students the technical skills needed to pass state certifications which will enable them to get jobs in the automotive industry.

miranda working on daytona.jpgOne of the cars the kids are working on is a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe which will be displayed at Autorama this weekend and compete against cars from other schools. Judges will evaluate elements such as cleanliness, safety, if the vehicle is complete (no missing bolts) and attention to detail.

The vehicle originally arrived as a kit car – which means lots of boxes with many pieces that don’t necessarily fit together perfectly, and this is how junior Miranda Rumfelt prefers it.

“I like to figure out how to do it rather than have it ready to go,” said Rumfelt.

Just last week, she painted the shell of the Daytona. And by paint, I mean she mixed the paint and applied the primer, sealer, base coat and clear coat. And after the painting is done, it isn’t finished. The vehicle still needs wet sanding, the buffing wheel, wax and touchups.

mark-miranda-clay-modelRumfelt is just one of the growing number of girls participating in Roseville’s Auto Tech program. In addition to class, she also attends DRIVE at the high school Thursday evenings. This program isn’t limited to students, and here, Rumfelt has learned even more specialized skills, such as tape drawing and clay modeling, for which she has won awards from the Michigan Industrial & Technology Education Society.

With a goal of leading her own design team at Chrysler or General Motors one day, Rumfelt plans to take summer classes at Lawrence Tech, is aggressively seeking internships and is looking ahead to college, potentially at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

working.jpgIn the meanwhile, some of her classmates are passing their certifications and already lining up great jobs right out of high school. Auto Tech Department Head Paul Tregembo Jr. said the school has found great partnerships with several local businesses, including Roy O’Brien, and welcome more. If you have a business interested in getting involved with the Roseville Auto Tech Department, contact Tregembo at DriveOneDetroit@gmail.com.

To learn more about Roseville High School’s automotive programs, visit rcs.misd.net/roseville-high-school.html or DriveOne.net, find them on Facebook at facebook.com/DriveOneDetroit or follow on Twitter @DriveOnDetroit.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.