By Kelly Lindsey
In order to remain globally competitive, Kentucky manufacturers need a supply of highly qualified, technically-minded individuals. The Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing (KY FAME) was established to assist with meeting this need.
From the K-12 classroom perspective, teachers constantly look for ways to open the world so students can aspire to and reach their potential. In Kentucky, those opportunities have increased with the expansion of the KY-FAME program.
KY FAME is a partnership of regional manufacturers interested in implementing dual track, apprenticeship-style training that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers. The group focuses on partnerships with local educational institutions to offer the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program (AMT). KY FAME also works with school districts to promote STEM and careers in manufacturing. There are nine chapters of KY FAME serving all areas of the Commonwealth.
Why is this important to teachers in Kentucky? KY FAME offers another pathway to success for our students, especially those who may not be interested in a traditional four-year college degree. The Advanced Manufacturing Technician program offers students two years of on-the-job experience as they pursue an associate degree. Two days a week are spent in the classroom, with the remaining days spent working in a partnering manufacturing company.
Students who are selected to enter the program enroll in an associate degree program with AMT certification. This program is available in some areas to high school students as a dual enrollment/early college plan. High school seniors accepted into the program can finish high school and be well on their way to a fulfilling career.
“I like being able to take what I learn in the classroom and apply it to my job in training and maintenance. Everything I’m learning in the AMT Program I can use in the real world.”
– Megan Henry, North Bullitt High School student, GE Appliances
In an effort to spread awareness about KY FAME, a week-long externship was offered in northern Kentucky to give 12 education professionals real-world experience in manufacturing. I was chosen to be part of this group. First, we convened at Gateway Community and Technical College in Florence for an overview of the program and quickly learned about the need for highly qualified, technically-minded employees in manufacturing and how KY FAME strives to fill that need. I was excited!
The participating corporations for the externship were Safran, Robert Bosch Automotive Steering, L’Oreal and Hahn Automation. I was on the Bosch team with three other teachers – Gray Palmer, math/engineering; Carolyn Gaddis, Spanish; and Terry Trame, social studies. In preparation for entering the plant, we learned about the company and the building of steering assemblies for automobiles. Day two was total brain overload. We toured the plant for more than two hours, met employees and learned. Everyone talked about the importance of math skills.
One of the people I met was a young supervisor in the Power Pack line that builds computer brains for steering assemblies. Our tour guide walked up, pulled him out and said, “Tell these teachers what you do here.” The young man enthusiastically explained his team’s job. He also told us how he had started working at Bosch right after high school, had completed the AMT program and was working on his bachelor’s degree at Northern Kentucky University. This kind of enthusiasm is what I hope for my students to achieve.
We met many people that day. Almost everyone talked about the requirements for employees – MATH and general soft skills. Math was everywhere – graphs, calibration numbers, hardness ratios, etc.
On the third day, the really hard work happened. We each were assigned to an assembly line, working with current employees. I worked with a wonderful, patient team who took time to explain what they wanted me to do. One of the things I wish my students could see was how the team worked together by changing stations to deal with backup and by problem-solving together to fix issues that occurred.
There was a broad range of experience and ages on the line, but that didn’t matter. They all worked together for the betterment of the product and the company.
One person asked me what I think about “that Common Core stuff.” He wanted to know why math is so difficult now and why we can’t just teach it the way he learned it. I had the perfect opportunity to explain that the goal behind Kentucky’s Academic Standards is understanding, not just algorithms. We talked briefly about mental math and how easy it is to do, but so difficult to explain. I told him we are trying to help students think math, not just do math.
Department heads taught us about quality control, logistics, program control and other areas. We met current AMT students and watched them as they trained. A main theme in every presentation was continuous improvement. Everyone was working to make the entire company function at its highest potential.
As I reflect upon my experience, that is what teachers are trying to do – to help students work to their highest potential. We deeply desire that each student find his/her way to success and productivity.
Learn more about KY FAME by visiting its website here, by contacting your local area Kentucky Community and Technical College System site and by talking with your students about this opportunity.
For more information on how schools and teachers can get involved with KY FAME, contact Josh Benton with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development at Joshua.Benton@ky.gov.
Kelly Lindsey is a National Board certified mathematics teacher at Boone County High School. She currently is serving as vice president for high school teachers for the Kentucky Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
MORE INFO …
Think Kentucky: “KY FAME: Building Kentucky’s Future Workforce”
American Radio Works: “A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program”