PETOSKEY – Students wishing to pursue an engineering technology degree can now begin their education closer to home –– and at significant cost savings –– thanks to North Central Michigan College’s brand new curriculum.
Available this fall, the bachelor of science associate with an engineering technology major allows graduates to meet general education requirements, with a foundation in math, science, and engineering, before moving on to an undergraduate degree at a university . Credits earned will be transferred to North Central partner institutions, including Central Michigan University, Ferris State University, and Lake Superior State University.
“This path will enable seamless transfer into a four-year program in any engineering specialty,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs Stephen Strom. “It is also an opportunity for students to enter the world of work with industry-recognized certifications, or ‘postgraduate’ to expand their career as an advanced manufacturing engineer.”
College officials said the new degree path is the latest development in North Central’s attempt to become a leader in Industry 4.0, so-called because it represents the fourth industrial revolution: smart factories with autonomous machines, automated manufacturing and advanced robotics. powered by data and machine learning.
“Industry 4.0 has brought a higher level of automation and interconnectivity to the manufacturing process,” said Jim Cousino, North Central Dean of Vocational and Technical Education. “It’s the gold standard for companies looking to retrain their current workforce or hire new employees.”
Integrated into the curriculum of the program are the standards set by the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA), which is the only credential entity in the world providing certifications and stackable micro-credentials related to Industry 4.0.
Program flexibility and customization are key to distinguishing the North Central program, Cousino noted. He added that they are also extremely important to students.
“These micro-credentials are approvals that recognize knowledge and skills in highly focused areas such as electrical systems or programmable logic controller troubleshooting,” he said. “Students can group them into specialist-level certifications to continuously build their curriculum, or they can work their way up to an associate degree.”
The learning will take place within the college’s new manufacturing and engineering technology lab, home to hands-on training systems ranging from electromechanical systems to industrial robots, fluid energy, drives and motors. At the heart of the laboratory is an Amatrol 870 mechatronics system, a replica of the modern smart factory that integrates every single component of the laboratory into one large, fully automated production line.
“The Amatrol Smart Factory is where every single engineering discipline meets the skills and competencies we are teaching,” said instructor Jerry Brusher. “This is where our students go from knowing this to knowing how.”
And, officials said graduates who know how will be in high demand. Deloitte, a global accounting and consulting firm, cited 2.1 million skilled jobs available by 2030. Their report, 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook, adds that half of executives expect to increase efficiency through intelligence. artificial and technologies such as robots and “cobots” or collaborative robots. These companies will seek to hire qualified engineers and technicians to program, maintain and repair their robots and machinery, Cousino said.
“The professional outlook is extremely positive,” he said. “We are preparing our graduates not just for a job, but for a profitable career.”