A ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning in Atlantic, for a new “Design Technology” program at Iowa Western Community College’s Cass County Center.
The program is the first of its kind at a two-year college and students enrolled will learn to build 3-D, virtual products using specialized software.
Atlantic native, Jay Miller, says he came up with the idea in later 2006, and then recruited a business advisory board in 2008. They then developed the curriculum and then got approval from the Higher Learning Commission to allow students to graduate from the Atlantic Center, and they received a $65-million grant from Siemens in the Summer of 2010.
Miller said graduates of the program will fill a need companies have to replace retiring workers in the high-tech industry throughout the world. The head of engineering services for Rockwell-Collins, Dale Wolf, says the knowledge students gain in state-of-the-art tools in 3-D electronic design and data management, should provide them with “significant employment opportunities,” in a variety of industries.
He says his company and others in the aerospace industry are facing a shortage of skilled workers due to retirements, and the Design Technology Program will help to fill the void. Bill Boswell, Head of Partnerships for Siemens P-L-M Software in Des Moines, said he attended a conference of industry analysts who cover the manufacturing industry, in Boston, Massachusetts, last week.
He said one of the things they talked about, in addition to the recent devastating effects of the hurricane, was the “perfect storm” the industry faces for educated and highly skilled workers. He says one of the company human resources vice presidents he spoke with, said they will be losing 50,000 people to retirement in the next 10-years alone.
“So you can imagine the brain drain that puts on companies,“ Boswell said. Boswell said even with a poor global economy last year, there was still a need for three-million engineers. He says that’s about 750,000 graduates short of what the colleges and universities produce every year.
Story and photo by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic