Michigan Educators Earn Smart Automation Gold (Hands-on) Certifications
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24 Gold-level Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA) certifications were awarded to instructors from across Michigan at Macomb Community College. This was a groundbreaking two-day experience, bringing together individuals from different colleges who are dedicated to training students for careers in smart automation and advanced manufacturing.

SACA Gold certifications valued by employers

SACA certifications are industry-driven, developed by industry for industry and validated by experts from some of the world’s most well-known manufacturers. They cover the skills employers need from their workforce: from foundational industrial technologies like electro-mechanical systems, fluid power and controls, to smart manufacturing systems like robotics, smart sensor and identification systems and Industry 4.0 smart factory systems.

Two levels of certifications assess a learners knowledge (Silver) and hands-on skills (Gold). For years, students attending SACA member schools in Michigan have been earning Silver certifications. Now, thanks to this event, participating schools will be some of the first in the nation eligible to deliver SACA Gold-level certifications to their students

These hands-on assessments require an individual to prove their mastery of real-world industrial skills. That’s something employers highly value.

Jim Wall, Executive Director of the Smart Automation Certification Alliance, spoke on the value of these next-level certifications:

“SACA Gold-Level credentials are hyper-focused, competency-based certifications that verify proof of knowledge and hands – on skills assessment in Industry 4.0 areas. They offer a streamlined way to document what candidates know and more importantly can do so that they can contribute to the local industrial workforce right away.”

Macomb Community College hosts first-of-its-kind event

Michigan is leading the Midwest in the adoption of smart manufacturing certifications – in fact, the state has the second-most SACA member schools in the entire country. Located just northeast of Detroit, Macomb County touts itself as “a leader in aerospace, robotics, tool and die.” In February 2019, the White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report that showed Macomb County as the top location in the country for the creation of new manufacturing jobs from 2016-2018, with more than 9,000 manufacturing jobs generated during that time.

Given its location and robust advanced manufacturing technology labs, Macomb Community College was the perfect location to host this event.

“Representatives from community colleges across the State of Michigan sent their representatives to Macomb for this two-day event to ensure that they were able to demonstrate the competency for SACA Gold,” said Patrick Rouse, director, Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Engineering and Advanced Technology, Macomb Community College. “It’s a wonderful example of how community colleges can collaborate together to ensure the proper training of students and faculty across the State.”

Allen Dickenson, an instructor of Engineering and Applied Technology in the college’s Workforce and Continuing Education department, led the SACA Gold certification event. Allen has one of the most extensive SACA certification portfolios in the country. With his wide knowledge base, he was able to proctor and certify attendees in areas like Basic and Advanced Manufacturing Operations, Electrical Systems, Motor Control Systems, Variable Frequency Drives, Sensor Logic Systems, and Pneumatic Systems. Those in attendance represented Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College, and Montcalm Community College.

This event was a groundbreaking example of how colleges can work together to more rapidly create a talent pipeline into advanced manufacturing and smart technology careers.

Certifying students for hands-on skills

Armed with these Gold certifications, the instructors will now be able to certify students at their own colleges in these skill areas.

Mark Blair was one of the attendees and looks forward to delivering the Gold-level certifications to his own students. “The hands-on testing is so important,” he commented, “because it will give the student the confidence to go out in the field and competently work on industrial machinery.”

This connection from classroom to career is crucial to employers. The shortage of workers, even unskilled, has been a challenge for years. If a school can design a clear pathway for a student to enter the workforce ready to add value to the employer on day one, they’re worth their weight in gold. These SACA hands-on assessments are hard proof that a student is competent for the job.

This is just the start of the impact this event will have on the state. As Gold-certified instructors, the attendees will also be able to certify other instructors, either at their own college or at their regional high schools, who can then provide certifications to their own students. It’s a ripple effect that will enable the entire state to move ahead leaps and bounds in preparing students for smart automation careers.

Becoming a member of SACA

If your organization is interested in learning more about these certifications and how to become a member of the Smart Automation Certification Alliance, fill out this inquiry and we’ll be happy to share more information.

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