Student apprentices who are graduating from the competitive Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program will demonstrate their high-tech mastery of automated equipment by completing projects in front of live audiences during events in February and March at Henry Ford College and Oakland Community College.
Industry professionals are invited to attend the free presentations known as the MAT2 Mechatronics Capstone. MAT² is an innovative, industry-driven apprenticeship program that addresses two critical issues facing the manufacturing industry: a widening skills gap and an aging workforce. The 2017 Mechatronics Capstone Events Schedule is below.
During a course of three years, MAT2 students alternate between classroom instruction and on-the-job training, gaining the necessary hands-on skills and experiences to become a successful and productive member of their sponsoring company. Their employers pay their tuition and a stipend during their school periods and wages during their work periods.
“Industry representatives who attend a Capstone event will learn how they can train the next generation of skilled technicians with MAT2 apprentices,” said Sophie Stepke, training manager at ZF North America Inc. in Northville and chair of the MAT2 strategic steering committee.
“The demonstrations are a crowning achievement for MAT2 students and a wonderful opportunity to witness firsthand what MAT2 apprentices have learned through their college coursework and at their sponsoring company,” Stepke said. “The highlight for spectators is that they can watch MAT² students completing the final projects that showcase their knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems as well as control devices and fluid power.”
The Mechatronics Capstone is divided into two components: project troubleshooting and the project build. The troubleshooting project can be viewed at Henry Ford College and the build project can be viewed at Oakland Community College. Upon successful completion of the Capstone, the students will receive their associate degree. In addition to the Capstone, MAT2 students must complete all required work periods to finish their apprenticeship. When the student accomplishes all program components, they will receive a full-time job offer from their sponsoring company.
Gov. Snyder, state lawmakers and educators across Michigan have hailed MAT2 as one of the keys to an ambitious 2017 effort to spur more students toward pursuing careers in advanced manufacturing as well as address employer concerns about talent shortages.
“The cutting-edge MAT2 apprenticeship program has a proven track record of success, including providing a wide array of employer benefits such as increased productivity and knowledge transfer, a skilled talent pipeline and enhanced retention,” said Deborah Bayer, dean of public services and CREST, and interim dean of engineering, manufacturing and industrial technology at Oakland Community College.
“In addition, MAT2 helps students avoid debt by earning tuition-free associate degrees while simultaneously getting paid to gain on-the-job experience in high-paying, high-demand manufacturing careers,” Bayer said.
Michigan employer demand for MAT2-type middle-skill workers – those with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, such as largely technical jobs in manufacturing and health care – is soaring.
The need for advanced manufacturing employees is expected to remain strong as baby boomers retire, with more than 5,700 job openings anticipated in Michigan through 2018. Average wages for full-time jobs in this arena are $23.37 an hour, compared with the living wage of $17.08. State estimates show that there is a need for 15,000 new skilled trades workers annually through the next decade with average annual wages of $51,000, according to the Michigan Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives.
“Industries throughout Michigan have committed to sponsoring students in this program,” said Gary Saganski, Henry Ford College associate dean, corporate training office. “They know what a huge need there is for technically trained people who can install, troubleshoot and repair today's highly automated manufacturing equipment,” he added.
Many of the metro Detroit area’s largest manufacturers and industrial companies are participating in the MAT2 program, including EMAG in Farmington Hills, New Center Stamping in Detroit; BorgWarner in Auburn Hills and Livonia; ZF in Northville; Brose North America in New Boston, Auburn Hills and Warren; and Durr Systems in Southfield.