Plans for a Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center underway

Almost every industry around the world is benefiting from advancements in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence technologies, including defense, health care, logistics, finance and consumer goods. But these technologies can only go so far. Companies still need a talented workforce alongside their machines.

People in the state of Michigan understand that relationship. For more than a century, this workforce has built, crafted and created everything from cars to pharmaceuticals with the help of machines. And while the recession had a negative impact on the state’s manufacturing sector, it has since rebounded with a dramatic increase in new jobs that incorporate automated and intelligent systems. For instance, in the auto industry, new jobs are being created around self-driving and connected vehicle development programs. However, these roles require new skills and different training than positions in the past. Therefore, if Michigan wants to compete with other global centers of innovation, the state needs to encourage and help the next generation of workers embrace and become experts at new technologies.

To tackle this issue, Macomb County plans to create a nonprofit Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center aimed particularly at increasing awareness and opportunity within the robotics environment.

google-future focused

Why a Robotics Center?
Macomb County is home to a large community that has experience in manufacturing, mass production, supply chain industries and technology and product development. The region is positioned to expand further in this area given:

  • Southeast Michigan’s technology and manufacturing executives being optimistic about growth in revenues, spending and hiring talent.
  • Southeast Michigan being more competitively positioned for technology professionals to build their careers than Silicon Valley because of the lower cost of living, networking opportunities and leading academic institutions.
  • Southeast Michigan being ripe for technology companies to do business due to the region’s ability to retain talent, achieve a greater return on investment and lower the cost of capital.

These factors all help make the case for a center focused on robotics and innovation. Our region is ready, we just need to offer the tools to further train our workforce and build opportunities for the next generation of talent. A robotics center will help us do just that.

What will it do? Who will it serve?
The new facility will launch later this year at the Velocity Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights. Once open, its mission will be partnering with businesses, educational organizations, nonprofits and startups to offer tools, programs, expert assistance and open access to an independent, digital- and electronic-based environment for creative people. It will be a facility and ecosystem which offers co-sharing and individual workspaces, computers, software and related technologies. It will also feature a tooling and fabrication shop, engineering and computer science assistance, business development assistance and mentors from leading automotive, defense, manufacturing and technology firms, all in an open, collaborative environment.

“Ultimately, we hope to bring existing engineering talent from major employers across Southeast Michigan into an environment where new ideas and technologies can be created,” said John Paul Rea, director of MCPED. “The possible benefits are endless.”

1901 - gathering 1.14.19MCPED, in partnership with the city of Sterling Heights, the Macomb Intermediate School District and Macomb Community College, hopes the center can partner with and serve the following audiences:

  • High school FIRST teams
  • Workforce development agencies
  • Four-year education institutions and community colleges
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative groups (K-12)
  • Regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce
  • Regional school districts
  • Multiple think tank/research institutions
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Highly active network of venture capitalists and philanthropists
  • Green-mobility cluster initiative
  • Business accelerators
  • Industry

Its success will be evaluated through the following metrics:

  • Measurable impacts
  • Community support
  • Participant progress
  • Education attainment
  • Activities

Ultimately, if positive outcomes are reported and a wide-range of audiences are served, the Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center will become an asset for the community for many years to come. Stay tuned for more details on its launch and to learn how you can get involved.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Accelerating towards next generation mobility in Macomb County

The North American International Auto Show is renowned for its fleet of future-focused vehicles. From concept cars to CAD drawings, the ideas for mobility seem endless – as is the discussion around what’s next for drivers. But topics that are sometimes missing from the conversation are our roadways and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). And those are important issues to explore, because smart cars won’t be very smart without smart roads and infrastructure.

pexels-photo-681347

Here in Macomb County, that’s not an issue. In fact, we’re leading the nation as one of the only counties developing next generation mobility strategies and roadways.

  • We have more than 300 Roadside Units (RSU) on business corridors throughout the county.
  • There are over 630 traffic signals connected to COMTEC, the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center.
  • 260 cameras help that facility monitor traffic on roads and 19 communication backhaul poles have created a robust ITS network.

Why does this all matter? The first answer is safety. Ultimately, Macomb County would like to increase driver welfare on area roads and decrease the number of car accidents. By combining current traffic safety programs with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, this goal is within reach. For instance, between 2016 and 2017, the county experienced a 33 percent reduction in traffic crash related fatalities. This is a direct result of actions taken by the Macomb Department of Roads backed up by data and technology.

The second answer is connected vehicle testing, an essential tool for the Big Three as they look to prototype and build more smart cars. To do that, they need infrastructure where they can assess their new vehicles in real-world settings. The 300 RSUs on Macomb’s business corridor give them this ability. These boxes gather and broadcast information at intersections and link with the connected vehicles to alert them to changing lights or other hazards. Eventually, the RSUs will be able to give speed guidance or construction alerts. And in the future, RSUs and connected vehicles could even communicate with other modes of transportation, like buses, pedestrians and bicycles, all using the same technology. But today, this system helps companies like GM, Ford and FCA experiment with their vehicles. And because Macomb prioritizes smart infrastructure, they can determine what will work and what won’t for drivers around the world. That’s certainly impressive; but of course it makes sense that our region would be a trailblazer in this effort. We make the cars, therefore we lead the way in next generation mobility.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Macomb County focused on “Future Tech, Future Talent” during Auto Show

In its most recent Future of Jobs Report (2018), the World Economic Forum forecasts dramatic changes for workplaces around the globe driven by automation and machines. wefBut this five year economic outlook is more positive than one would assume. From new job creation to retraining opportunities, the report features several interesting predictions, including:

  1. There is a net positive outlook for jobs – amid job disruption
    While current job roles may be displaced by the shift in the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms, 133 million new job roles may emerge at the same time. Those roles are either related to technology (data analysts, software and applications developers and e-commerce and social media specialists) or emphasize human traits (customer service workers, sales and marketing professionals, training and development, people and culture, and organizational development specialists).
  2. New tasks at work are driving demand for new skills
    By 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly. Skills growing in importance include analytical thinking and active learning as well as technology design. “Human” skills will also increase in value, including: creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation, attention to detail, resilience, flexibility, complex problem-solving, emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence and service orientation.
  3. We will all need to become lifelong learners
    As workplaces change, so must workers. On average, employees will need 101 days of retraining and upskilling in the period up to 2022. This will require businesses to build a comprehensive strategy for workforce planning, training and education.

These points are driving a future-focused mindset here in Macomb County, where business, government and education leaders are collaborating on several new talent and technology initiatives. And while attending the North American International Auto Show, these leaders will take time to discuss a few of the efforts.

autonomous-1.1“We couldn’t think of a better time or place to highlight these initiatives than the North American International Auto Show,” said John Paul Rea, director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED). “This show is a testament to our region’s ingenuity and ability to grow and innovate. So we’re proud to showcase our county’s future-focused mindset here.”

The first major initiative they will highlight is a Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center, a new resource aimed at increasing awareness and opportunity within the robotics environment. The center was submitted by MCPED as a proposal to the Defense Industry Growth Area Grants program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in the summer of 2018. It was recently awarded funding and will launch at the Velocity Collaboration Center later this year. Once open, the center’s mission will be partnering with businesses, educational organizations, nonprofits and startups to offer tools, programs, expert assistance and open access to an independent, digital- and electronic-based environment for creative people. It will be a facility and ecosystem which offers co-sharing and individual workspaces, computers, software and related technologies. It will also feature a tooling and fabrication shop, engineering and computer science assistance, business development assistance and mentors from leading automotive, defense, manufacturing and technology firms, all in an open, collaborative environment.

talent

“New technologies are having a massive effect on just about every aspect of our lives,” said County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “Whether it’s the economy, infrastructure or education, the world is changing and we need to be ready for that. This is why Macomb County is investing in new programs and initiatives aimed at tech and talent. We want to make sure that our communities and residents are prepared for the future in ways that will ensure our success.”

google-fueling talent pipeline-1.1Other major investments to discuss include Macomb County’s recently launched “Fueling the Talent Pipeline” effort – a service platform that will allow employers and educators to connect, share resources and help students become aware of future career opportunities – and its connected roadways strategy. The strategy, which involves the creation of a smart infrastructure network that can communicate with vehicles, bikes, buses and pedestrians, will position Macomb County as a leader in improving the overall mobility experience.

For more information on the above initiatives, visit www.macombbusiness.com.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Exclusive Auto Show Experiences Available Through Macomb County

The North American International Auto Show is right around the corner, as are premier opportunities to connect and share insights with professionals and companies from around the world.naiasEach year more than 2,200 companies in the automotive sector come together at NAIAS to showcase cutting-edge products, technologies and services. With nearly 40,000 global professionals and analysts at the event, it’s also a great place for networking, especially during Industry Preview Days on January 16 and 17.

dsc_5109Premium access to this portion of NAIAS is now available. For instance, the VIP Industry Preview Package provides businesses with an exclusive way to experience the show, entertain clients and network with industry professionals. Each ticket package includes:

  • A pass for the private Atwater Networking Lounge
  • Hospitality features including coat check, light lunch and refreshments
  • A commemorative NAIAS program
  • Complimentary entry to a designated work area
  • Early access to the show floor on January 16

The premier package is available for $110. Groups purchasing 20 or more tickets will receive additional benefits, including two bonus credentials for the Atwater Networking Lounge. To purchase exclusive tickets using our special promo code (TFG19), click here.

As an additional perk for current and prospective Macomb County clients, we will host a hospitality suite on Wednesday, January 16 from 2-5 p.m. in Room #338. Join us and take advantage of a comfortable place to sit, light refreshments and access to electrical outlets. Our business development staff will be on hand to talk about how the county is supporting the automotive sector with its wide variety of resources, including a skilled and talent workforce, optimal facility locations, connected roadways and industry investments.

NAIAS is an important event for Macomb County – the third most populated county in the state. We look forward to being a part of the annual expo and showcasing the “Future Tech, Future Talent” found just north of the Motor City.

Amy Lafnear is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

American Society of Employers to offer HR and leadership-focused classes in Macomb County

Continuing education is an important aspect of personal and professional growth; something that both employers and employees must invest in. This sentiment is especially relevant in the human resources field – as there are frequent changes in regulations and constant questions around new personnel issues. All told, HR professionals must be well-informed and trained to deal with the ever-evolving workplace and yearly courses offered by the American Society of Employers (ASE) can help them achieve this standing.

ase_logoASE, a not-for-profit employer association that serves as a source for information and support on all matters affecting employment, recently announced that it would expand the courses it offers into Macomb County. In partnership with Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, ASE will hold the below classes in Mount Clemens for HR professionals and business leaders.

And to note: As an introductory offer, they are offering member rates and an additional 10 percent discount now through March 15. To take advantage of this offer, enter discount code ‘TD10’ when registering.

  • Thursday, January 24, 2019 – 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
    Title: Contribution—Increasing Your Leadership Value
    Purpose:   To assist leaders in growth and development by clarifying areas they can control and influence, exploring career stages, and identifying personal strengths/opportunities.
    Objectives: The purpose of this training is to increase career progression, business results, and value to the organization by identifying and leveraging contribution value. Participants will complete a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) assessment on seven competencies including leadership, communication, and decision-making prior to class date.
    Who should attend: Managers, team leads, supervisors, and individual contributors

Register for Contribution-Increasing Value for Greatest Impact

  • Thursday, February 28, 2019 – 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
    Title: Generations at Work: Bridging the Generation Gap
    Purpose: The purpose of this training is to help participants bridge the generation gap and create a respectful workplace to increase productivity, morale, and motivation.
    Objectives: This course will provide a better understanding of the generational differences in the workplace.  Participants will learn how to maximize relationships and build on strengths across generations to optimize effectiveness and productivity.
    Who should attend: Managers, team leads, supervisors, and individual contributors

Register for Generations at Work:  Bridging the Generation Gap

  • Thursday, March 28, 2019 – 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Title: Supervisory Survival Skills
    Purpose: The purpose of this training is to help participants understand the role of a supervisor and identify skills needed to be successful.
    Objectives: This course will define the role and responsibilities of a supervisor.  Participants will practice techniques to develop relationships, deliver feedback, delegate, make decisions and conduct effective meetings.
    Who should attend: Individuals who are new to the field of supervision

Register for Supervisory Survival Skills

  • Thursday, May 2, 2019 – 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
    Title: Succession Planning for Leadership Positions
    Purpose: The purpose of this training is to discuss how to create an organized program for identifying and developing future leaders to fill senior and executive positions within an organization.
    Objectives: Participants will learn the important steps and receive tools that can be adapted to their workplace to create a documented approach for creating the leaders of tomorrow.
    Who should attend: HR managers

Register for Succession Planning for Leadership Positions

In addition to clicking the above links, interested individuals may also register by email at asetraining@aseonline.org or by calling 248-223-8041. Additional classes and events can be found on the ASE website.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Local program to address employment gaps in advanced manufacturing industry

Macomb County and its neighboring regions have a rich history in both defense and automotive manufacturing.  But as new automation and robotics technology disrupt those sectors, the area’s economy has shifted from having a traditional blue collar workforce to a “new collar” workforce.  This shift in skillsets – from traditional manufacturing to high tech careers – has created a skills gap that further widens as the workforce chooses other career options outside of STEAM. If not addressed, this gap will create problems in production capabilities and all told, the effect on our economic well-being will be devastating.

pexels-photo-1216589To help fill this burgeoning skills gap, Macomb Community College is offering three advanced manufacturing programs in early 2019. The programs – controls technician, maintenance technician and robot technician – are designed to give participating students the training needed to enter the manufacturing industry with no previous experience necessary.

All three programs are noncredit and full time, featuring a combination of classroom education and hands-on experience. The programs run between three and four months long, depending on the focus. Those that successfully complete their program earn a certificate of completion from Macomb, an OSHA 10 card demonstrating the student meets certain OSHA requirements and certification from FANUC, a global supplier of factory automation.  Those that take the controls technician program will also have the opportunity to take the Siemens Mechatronics System Certification Program Level 1 exam. More than 300 employers have hired Macomb students who have successfully completed these programs.

An information session for the maintenance technician and robot technician programs will be held on Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Macomb Community College’s M-TEC (7900 Tank Avenue in Warren).  Those interested in the controls technician program should contact 586.498.4100 in advance of the information session.

The controls technician program will begin Jan. 28, maintenance technician on Feb. 18 and robot technician on March 11. Those who are unemployed may qualify for funding to assist with a portion or all of the cost of tuition. For more information and to register for the information session, go to Macomb.edu/infosession. For additional information on tuition assistance, call 586.498.4100 or email workforcedev@macomb.edu.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Explore potential career paths with your child this holiday break

Students across Michigan are preparing for the annual winter break period; two weeks off from school where they can relax and recharge while celebrating the holidays. Many will spend the period hanging out with friends, binge watching Netflix and indulging in various sweet treats, but this year, there’s another activity that we advise young people and their parents pursuing. In recognition of December being Michigan Career and Exploration and Awareness Month, we are encouraging all families to discuss jobs and career pathways with their children.

Graphics-01

“It’s important students explore careers early and often,” Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Interim Director Jeremy Hendges said. “This month is about highlighting the array of resources and opportunities to explore careers before students graduate from high school. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to bring those conversations about career exploration home from the classroom to the holiday dinner table so families and friends can share their experiences with their students, too.”

With more than 811,000 career openings across the state through 2024, Michigan is working to close the talent gap. State leaders believe that talent gap stems from a career awareness gap and counselors, educators, employers and parents all have a role in helping Michigan’s young people explore the hundreds of thousands of high-demand, high-wage careers available in the Great Lakes State.

“Too often, students leave high school without a plan for what’s next and are doing their career exploration in college,” Hendges added. “The more we can help students explore these opportunities earlier, the sooner we can close our talent gap and connect our young people with rewarding, great-paying careers here at home.”

To help parents and families with these conversations, we’ve pulled together several easy-to-use resources that can answer questions, facilitate dialogue and spark inspiration. They include:

  • Going-PRO.com: This one-stop online tool provides students and all Michiganders with information on the state’s most high-demand, high-wage career opportunities in the professional trades, including salaries and job growth data, ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights professionals in their careers and how they got there and local schools and training facilities to get started in a Professional Trades career.
  • Pathfinder: Students can roadmap their career path with the state’s Pathfinder tool that allows them to pick a career field and see, all at once, how to get there from training to full-time career.
  • CareerOneStop.org: Families can learn details about any occupation with this resource, including what you might do on the job, how much you might earn and how much education or training you might need.
  • MiTalent.org: Michigan Training Connect can assist students in making knowledgeable decisions concerning their professional future and career.
  • MiBrightFuture.org: This robust and easy-to-use online system provides Michigan students valuable exposure to the world of work through interactions with real-life professionals, both helping students identify how to get a job they care about and employers find the qualified talent they need.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics created the OOH to help young people find career information on duties, education and training, pay and outlook for hundreds of occupations.

Graphics-03

By using these resources this holiday season, parents can give their children a leg up when it comes to their future. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and our Macomb County team would be happy to provide assistance.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.