Despite the economic slowdown that has hit the country, and especially areas of the Midwest, there are jobs available for those with experience in the manufacturing industry. The secret to gainful employment may be as easy as honing your skills at a local community college with up-to-date programs in green manufacturing.
One of the brightest spots in the industry currently appears to be in composite technology, the manufacturing of composite materials for a variety of uses. Community colleges across the country are heeding the call for composite technicians by offering specialized programs to prepare students for entry into the industry.
What is a Composite Technician?
According to the website for the Miller Business Resource Center at Salt Lake Community College, a composite technician fabricates "lightweight, structurally strong parts and assembly for a variety of job applications."
Some of the industries using composite technicians today include aerospace, wind turbines, automobiles, and marine vessels. In addition to manufacturing, composite technicians may also work in quality control and testing, as well as research and development.
To work in the area of composite technology, many employers want applicants to have a minimum of an associate's degree in Materials Science. However, there are employers working directly with community colleges to create a training program specific to their industry that may be completed in just a few weeks' time. These programs may offer the opportunity to go to work with the employer directly after completion of the program, making the prospect of a career in composite technology even more inviting.
This video explains what a composite technician does.
Consider these examples of just some of the composite technician programs available across the country.
Three area manufacturers are working with this community college in Grand Rapids, Michigan to bring new employees into their companies, according to a report on mLive.com. Energetx Composites in Holland, Michigan, is just one of the employers hoping to draw on graduates from Grand Rapids Community College to fill much-needed positions. The Energetx spokesman, Dave Walsh, told mLive.com, "We're in the process of trying to generate more qualified candidates for positions, with the idea that we will need to fill some positions in the not-too-distant future."
Despite the fact that graduates of the program could earn a starting salary of $12.50 per hour or more, the college is having trouble finding enough students to fill its 40 available openings. The program is an 80-hour, four-week class that includes training on both fiberglass and other laminate composite manufacturing. At this time, there are more than 30 composite technician jobs to be filled in the Michigan area.
Sinclair Community College is another institution on a mission to find employment for displaced Ohio workers with training in composite technology. This college is also offering a training program for the industry, which includes an eight-week program designed for hands-on training rather than textbook education. Training is broken down into two sessions that are taken in subsequent months.
The Sinclair Community College website states that Ohio is slated to be one of the national leaders in composite manufacturing, making this a good choice for anyone looking to switch gears in their manufacturing career.
This Washington college is also rising to the call for composite technicians, with a program that leads to an associate's degree in Materials Science. Once students complete the associate's degree, they can choose to continue their education and earn a four-year degree in engineering technology or technical management.
According to Edmonds Community College, students in this program previously have built race cars, submarines, and wind turbines.
Industry leaders that support the Edmonds degree program include Boeing, medical device manufacturers, and boat manufacturers.
This video recounts the transition to a career in composite manufacturing.
Individuals who have found themselves unemployed due to the manufacturing slowdown that shook up the center of this country now have new hope and a new focus. With green engineering quickly taking its prestigious place as the next great manufacturing boom, those in line for community college programs to train them for the green industry will find many positions in the area of composite technology in the not-so-distant future. The right training will make all the difference in giving graduates the competitive edge they need to move into a career that will be lucrative and long-lasting.
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