In the fall of 2012, Hennepin Technical College’s Customized Training Service (CTS) received a $2.9-million US Department of Labor grant to fund the creation of the Manufacturing Assessment and Advancement Center (MAAC).

Emerge Construction Hennepin Technical College

HTC visits the site for the new EMERGE Career & Technology Center in North Minneapolis

Virtual Manufacturing Labs (vLABs) are being developed by MAAC in various locations throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. These labs feature hands-on simulators for various industries including: CNC Machining, Welding, and Automated Controls. Also included in the labs are 3D Printers, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software, and online curriculum.

Matt Leaf, Director of MAAC noted, “Local manufacturers indicated that their biggest challenge was hiring a talented workforce and overcoming the skills gap. One way the vLABs will help shrink this gap is by making technical education more accessible and flexible. The crucial funding provided by the US Department of Labor has greatly improved our ability to deliver this innovative educational model.”

In April 2014, HTC held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the vLAB at their Brooklyn Park Campus. By Fall 2014, two additional vLABs will be opened at both the Eden Prairie Campus of HTC and EMERGE’s Career and Technology Center in North Minneapolis. Additional sites are also in the works at the Wright Technical Center in Buffalo, MN and the Hennepin South Workforce Center in Bloomington, MN.

Besides the vLABs, MAAC is implementing a variety of innovative enrollment and support services to help students successfully achieve their higher education goals and, ultimately, start a new career or advance within their current one. For example, a Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) model is being developed that will assess students’ skills and award them college credit for learning acquired outside a college classroom. In addition, several of our on-campus classes are being converted to an online or blended format so that students can comfortably take courses on their own time.

MAAC works to support a variety of people. Veterans returning from active duty are a large focus of this project. They have financial responsibilities and often need a degree to land a high paying job despite their specialized military training. MAAC can accommodate them by awarding college credit for applicable skills, as well as, connect them with HTC’s Veterans Resource Center to help them along the way. Those who have been granted Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) status or Dislocated Workers status are another focus of this project. However, anyone who has an interest in the cutting-edge manufacturing sector can be served by the flexible, accessible curriculum and shortened time to earn an award based on CPL.

The MAAC program can help those who need to update their skills or attain new ones. Many options are available that lead to credentials, diplomas, or an Associate’s Degree and, ultimately, a new career in the expanding manufacturing field.

Last updated by jlaabs : 2015-05-27 08:25:32