The Bureau of Labor Statistics, recently reported that manufacturing companies added 29,000 workers in January alone to reach a seven-year high of 12.4 million workers. Students at Edison State Community College are striving to meet this increasing demand for manufacturing jobs.
Edison State paired with Honda North America, Inc. to implement the “EPIC” program. EPIC stands for creating Enthusiasm about manufacturing among middle school students; encouraging Passion among high school students to harness the power of technology; promoting Innovative instruction at two-year colleges; and continuing Commitment to further educational opportunities for Honda associates. The EPIC program was added to Edison State’s curriculum in March 2015. The full implementation will be complete this summer.
The EPIC program is preparing students, starting in middle school, for the skills needed to work in this huge and important part of the American economy.
The first stage of the EPIC program incorporates video game technology to teach manufacturing skills to middle school-aged students by allowing them to use teamwork to build an engine, run a plant and troubleshoot production equipment problems. In high school, EPIC encourages students by providing hands-on learning experiences in the classroom and tours of the Honda facility in Anna, Ohio. The last component, which Edison exemplifies, is college career-based education aimed at the manufacturing industry’s needs.
Edison State offers a two-year degree path to instill an industrial mindset into EPIC program participants. The first year entails college coursework in science and technology, followed by real-life job experience inside the Honda plant three days a week and two days of classroom experience the second year. This type of program of study equips Edison students for occupations with great potential close to and far from home, partly because the EPIC program gives students priority access to job openings at not only Honda’s Anna, Ohio plant, but also other regional Honda facilities.
Edison State’s allegiance to the EPIC program started small, but with steady growth to meet the needs of industry in the future. Edison is not only aiding the EPIC program at its last stage, but also is utilizing the campus to hold STEM camps during the summer for middle schoolers. Edison also hopes to use the EPIC program model to partner with other regional manufacturers as a means of customizing the curriculum so they can develop a robust workforce pipeline.
Doreen Larson, Edison State’s president, said, “The partnership between manufacturers and community colleges seems natural, but is not often utilized. In my opinion, one of the most important outcomes of the EPIC model is to hopefully encourage community colleges and manufacturers to partner up and provide stimulating and challenging experiences.”
Edison State’s success through the EPIC program benefits all involved – the college, the students and Honda’s workforce. They hope to continue achieving success by expanding the EPIC program and developing their resources to bring even more students into the ever-growing manufacturing field.