By Bill Mullaly
Big things are taking place at the new Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry (SMCSI), located in the former M&S corporate office building just inside the city limits east of town. Open now and preparing for the start of classes in early August, the program is intended to provide opportunities for careers in engineering, sales, manufacturing and advanced manufacturing. The facility wants to improve student performance and workplace readiness by providing a 21st century education and training by using blended learning with utilization of technology.
The program manager, Dan Rogers, has big plans for the facility. The Hudson resident is in the midst of opening up the school, training center, educational facility and staffing agency all wrapped into one big operation.
The new sign is up with the words “Train Today and Work Tomorrow,” which is exactly what Rogers and his staff want to see happen.
“We have so much to offer here and we consider this a one-stop shop where students can get the training, education and job skills they need for tomorrow’s workplace,” said Rogers, who began as a consultant with this new facility but soon was hired to run the SMCSI. “We have Elwood Staffing in our building and South Central Michigan Works is here also. Students can learn a skill or trade and then be placed in a job due to the staffing agencies being right here. Those staffing agencies know what is needed and where the needs are for prospective employers. This is why I call this a one-stop shop! Everything they need is here right in this building. We can teach you, train you and help get you employed.”
Rogers stresses that high school students will be “work ready” and/or “college ready” for today’s advanced manufacturing industry. Also, he mentions that adult students still leave the program as graduates who are “work ready” for the advanced manufacturing industry as well. Employers will like this new center as staffing agencies will have offices in the building that they can call on and go to for workers. It is all there in one location at 550 East Main Street in Hudson.
The idea and concept of the SMCSI began with the cooperation of the Jackson Area Manufacturing Association (JAMA) and with the involvement of Hudson Schools superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne. During the past school year, work and plans were put into place and with the cooperation and support of numerous agencies, businesses, manufacturers and individuals, the SMCSI is now a reality. “We have had such great support from individuals, businesses, manufacturers with money, equipment, machines and as an advisory board,” said Rogers, who is thrilled with everything taking place at the new building that he now is the program manager for.
Some of the partners who have provided SMCSI with support are Paragon Metals, Alro Steel, Michigan Rebuild & Automation, Sierra Design, Applied Technologies, Methods Machine Tools Inc., Master Chemical Corporation, SECO, Elwood Staffing, Lenawee Now, JAMA and SCMW. For example, Methods Machine helped out by donating two huge CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machines with one being a mill and the other a lathe. “I just can’t say enough about how these organizations have helped to make this center a reality,” said Rogers, who is best known around Hudson as the defensive coordinator of the 2010 state championship football team. Three things the SMCSI stresses that it is about are the following: our community needs, our regional industry and our regional economic future.
The SMCSI has objectives that it is trying to reach in creating a pipeline of training that will better meet the workforce needs of regional manufacturers: to provide the necessary training for high school graduates and adults to be better prepared to meet the demands of today’s work force; to provide opportunities for careers in engineering, sales, manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing; to stimulate regional economic development and to attract industry; and to improve student performance and work place readiness by providing 21st century education and training.
The SMCSI will use a strategic educational model that is based on a group of triad blended content and delivery methods. Each and every educational objective is analyzed to determine the most productive methods, with the primary methods of training and learning coming from instructor-led classroom teaching, hands on mentoring and on-line learning. Rogers is billing the on-line learning with the slogan of ‘any time, any place and any pace’ education. “Students will be able to learn on their schedule, wherever they are at with a computer and they can learn at their own pace,” Rogers said about the on-line blended learning situation. With the active learning, individualized instruction and high teacher and student efficiency, the SMCSI is sure to be a popular place for the workers of tomorrow.
The SMCSI will use a curriculum based on Amatrol, a world leader in skill based technical training, that has interactivity of equipment and computer based learning. The Amatrol curriculum focuses on the current and future industry needs involving industrial quality hands on training equipment. The Amatrol model also includes blended learning with interactive learning materials.
One of the key features of the specialized curriculum is getting students ready for advanced manufacturing that is so needed in today’s workforce. Advanced manufacturing makes extensive use of computer, high precision and information technologies that are integrated with a high performance work force in a production system that can produce small or large volumes to meet customer demands.
The SMCSI is trying to provide the training and education for students, both adult and high school learners, who need effective and efficient education and training, along with providing them alternative career paths and specialized curriculum. The new center feels that they are the solution for the need for effective and efficient education and training. “We have it all here and we believe this center will fill a huge need for a skilled work force,” said Rogers, who feels the center also has a couple of other attractions to it. “We have a great, unique location here in Hudson serving two counties and the facility here at the former M & S building is outstanding. I just can’t say enough about the help and cooperation of so many people to make this place happen.”
The SMCSI will serve two counties for high school students as Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties will be able to send students to this brand new facility. For adults the SMCSI is more of a regional opportunity in the tri-state area. Adults from southern Michigan, northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana can all attend the center to earn and achieve the work skills they need.
Rogers wanted to announce a key few upcoming dates for the new center: the high school open house for students and parents will be on Tuesday evening, August 19th at 7:00 at the SMCSI building. Then the high school orientation for enrolled students will be the following week on Tuesday evening August 26th at 7:00. The SMCSI will have a grand opening set for Tuesday, September 9th with a time not set as of yet.
Rogers is thrilled with the staff that he has on hand to work with him. First, he mentions that without the efforts of Dr. Osborne, there would be no SMCSI. Rogers, the program manager, has Brian Hoard as his high school advanced manufacturing/pre-engineering instructor, Chris Poling as his adult advanced manufacturing instructor and Sue Jacobs is the office manager and administrative assistant.
The remodeling and work around the new center at the old M&S facility all came together with some hard work from Art Payne, Greg Durling and Cal McLouth. “Those three have done a tremendous job in fixing up this building into a first class facility,” said Rogers.
The planning and preparation are complete and the SMCSI is a reality now and Hudson has an exciting addition to its educational and manufacturing system that is able to meet the demands of a 21st century global economy.