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Makerspaces, Amatrol Work to Close the Skills Gap

STEM Makerspace Trade Show Display

Explore. Create. Connect.

When the California Community Colleges launched their Maker Initiative in 2016 — a three-year, $17-million commitment — the goal was to think outside of the box regarding student education.

The plan was simple: enable students to explore possible career paths, while still allowing them freedom to create, and hone, skills that they might not learn from a traditional classroom setting. Finally, they encouraged those same students to find their passion and share it, connecting with other like-minded classmates.

In the end, the hope was that the CCC Maker Initiative would support a culture and network of makerspaces, while granting college students an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the workforce.

What are Makerspaces?

Still a relatively new concept nationwide, a Makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing. Ranging in high-tech skills like 3D printers and CNC Machines, to low-tech skills such as disassembling computers and art creations, these spaces encourage students to think critically for themselves by using a hands-on approach.

Makerspace Sign at Trade Show

Amatrol was a corporate sponsor for GE’s Makerspace at the SkillsUSA Conference in Louisville, KY. Makerspaces are collaborative work spaces that encourage students to learn skills in the STEM field — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The process begins by finding a space that is not just ideal for one particular class or group, but rather one that offers a multipurpose perspective. Some may chose a public library or a non-profit corporation, while others may take place at universities or elementary schools.

From there, promotion is key. According to the Makerspace Playbook, makers believe “if you can imagine it, you can make it.” So marketing the event will be vital to its success. Then, with the help of professionals on-site, learners will begin implementing their ideas, operating the equipment and creating their work. Finally, students connect with one another, sharing and assessing their finished product.

“These makerspaces allow our students to unleash creativity while fostering the type of innovation that is critical for jobs of the future,” California Community Colleges Executive Vice Chancellor of Workforce & Digital Futures Van Ton-Quinlivan said in a press release. “Hundreds of 20-hour internships and work-based experiences coordinated by the educational makerspaces will result from this initiative.”

Closing the Skills Gap

Perhaps the biggest perk of the Makerspaces is how they can help prepare students who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Like other states around the country, the California Community Colleges noticed the education pipeline was not keeping pace with the skills and education required by employers, creating a skills gap for new graduates and their future employers. Entrepreneurship among young adults was declining and instructional delivery methods were being replaced by more inexpensive, plentiful sources.

By building a community of college makerspaces, however, the CCC Maker Initiative is hoping to welcome non-traditional students, as well as partnering with local businesses, to produce innovation-ready graduates that are inspired to contribute to the workforce immediately.

How Amatrol Can Help

While originally designed to help students recognize their passion and eventually hone their skills, simply identifying and creating a successful Makerspace is easier said than done. Not only is a clean, safe work area necessary, but a proven educational system in place to teach Learners how exactly to create their ideas is vital.

That’s where Amatrol comes in.

Since 1978, Amatrol has been a leading force in creating and perfecting Learning Systems to provide technology training.

Using a combination of both portable and stand-alone units, Amatrol’s Learning Systems are a perfect fit for Makerspaces due to the variety of options in areas of expertise, sizes and difficulties. While Amatrol’s Learning Systems have primarily been found in the educational and industrial sectors, the recent successes of Makerspaces provide yet another use for training modules that can be pulled into those Spaces as-needed, when-needed.

With Amatrol’s interactive eLearning curriculum, a person can fully utilize the Makerspace to their advantage by quickly jumping from Amatrol’s eLearning, to hands-on training in an area in which they need help to finish their designs. Broken down into specific skill training lessons, Amatrol’s eLearning provides an easy way for students to quickly gain the knowledge that they need to complete their designs.

Finally, by offering on-the-go curriculum and virtual trainers, students can continue their learning on content like lean manufacturing, and machine tools while away from the Spaces. This means no matter the time or place, learning is always just a computer click away.

Thanks to collaborative learning and work spaces, paired with an established company providing cutting-edge Learning Systems, Makerspaces and Amatrol will continue to light the fire under future student-leaders to eventually close the 21st century skills gap.

Learning Systems That Pair with Makerspaces

About Wes Scott

Wes Scott is a former public high school teacher and journalist. He is currently a Marketing Content Developer for Amatrol, Inc. Learn more about Amatrol and its technical training solutions, including eLearning, here and connect with Wes on Amatrol’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages.

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