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  1. In northwest Florida, advanced manufacturing (AM) jobs far outpace the middle-skilled technician workforce, though AM constitutes almost a quarter of the region’s total employment. From 2018-2028, of the available 4.6 million manufacturing jobs, less than half are likely to be filled due to talent shortages. This widening “skills gap” is attributed to many factors that range from new technologies in the AM industry (e.g., artificial intelligence, robotics), a need for newer recruiting methods, branding, and incentives in AM educational programs. Some professionals have even indicated that manufacturing industries and AM educational programs should be aligned more to reflect the needs of the industry. Even in the wake of Covid-19, when there have been over 700,000 manufacturing jobs lost due to market conditions, many states still have jobs that go unfilled further suggesting that there are challenges in filling AM technician positions. In a time when technicians in AM are in high demand and the number of graduates are in low supply, it is critical to identify whether AM education is meeting the needs of new professionals in the workforce and what they believe can be improved in these programs. This is especially true in rural locales, where economies with manufacturing industries are much more reliant on them. In the context of a NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE), through a multi-method approach, we sought to understand: 1) Which AM competencies skills did participants report as benefiting them in gaining employment? 2) Which competencies are needed on the job to be a successful AM technician? 3) What are the ways in which AM preparation can be improved to enhance employment outcomes? This study’s results will expand the research base and curriculum content recommendations for regional AM education, as well as build regional capacity for AM program assessment and improvement by replicating, refining, and disseminating study approaches through further research, annual AM employer and educator meetings, and annual research skill-building academies in which stakeholders transfer research findings to practices and policies that empower rural NW Florida colleges. To date, research efforts have demonstrated that competency perceptions of faculty, employers, and new professionals have notable misalignments that have opportunities for AM program curriculum revision and enhancement. This paper summarizes five years of research output, emphasizing the impactful findings and dissemination products for ASEE community members, as well as opportunities for further research. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    While rural manufacturing job availability is growing throughout the country, rural communities often lack skilled workers. Thus, it is imperative for employers to validate needed new professional competencies by understanding which skills can be taught on-the-job as well as the knowledge and abilities best gained through classroom learning and experiential learning opportunities. This enhanced understanding not only benefits employers’ hiring practices, but also it can help Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs improve curricula and expand learning opportunities to best meet students’ and employers’ needs. In this study, we triangulated industry competency model content with rural employer perspectives on new advanced manufacturing (AM) professionals’ desired competencies (i.e., the level of skill sophistication in a particular AM work area). To extract competencies for entry-level AM rural jobs, we used a deductive approach with multiple methods. First, we used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to extract, analyze, and compare the U.S. Department of Labor’s AM 2010 and 2020 Competency Models because they reflect the levels and topics AM industry professionals nationally reported as technician needs. Then, we interviewed 10 rural AM employers in North Florida to capture their perceptions of the most important competencies for new middle-skill technicians. Interview transcripts were also processed using NLP to extract competency levels and topics; we compared this output to the AM Competency Model analysis results. We deduced that the most critical competencies identified by rural AM employers required direct classroom instruction, but there was a subset of skills obtainable through on-the-job training or other experiential learning. This study, with the goal of addressing employee shortages and increasing the number of technicians ready for the workforce, has implications for rural community colleges’ AM programs curricula and the role of experiential learning. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    In northwest Florida, advanced manufacturing (AM) jobs outstrip the supply of middle-skilled technicians, though AM constitutes almost a quarter of the region’s total employment. Guided by the overarching research question (RQ) “To what extent do curriculum content, employer needs, and student experiences align within an advanced manufacturing educational pathway,” this NSF-funded study’s goals have been to 1) investigate the role AM program pathways have in meeting the needs of employers and new professionals who are employed in the region; 2) expand the research base and curriculum content recommendations for regional AM education; 3) build regional capacity for AM program assessment and improvement by replicating, refining, and disseminating study approaches through further research, annual AM employer and educator meetings, and annual research skill-building academies in which stakeholders transfer research findings to practices and policies that empower rural NW Florida colleges. To date, research efforts have demonstrated that competency perceptions of faculty, employers, and new professionals have notable misalignments that have opportunities for AM program curriculum revision and enhancement. This presentation will encompass four years of research output, emphasizing the impactful findings and dissemination products for ASEE community members, as well as opportunities for further research. 
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  4. In this research paper, we compare the alignment between advanced manufacturing (AM) competencies in Florida’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) AM Curriculum Framework and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model. AM educators are guided by state department of education documents that specify program content, while employers track the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that AM technicians require to successfully function in the workplace. The Curriculum Framework, created with input from educators and industry, shape AM curricula and course syllabi because they specify the learning outcomes that AM graduates upon completion of two-year AM degree programs. The Department of Labor’s Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model, crafted by federal policymakers and industry representatives, includes personal, academic, industry-specific, and managerial competencies needed by successful AM technicians; the Model is intended to influence technicians’ hiring, training, and evaluation. Although these documents were created by different sets of stakeholders, they “bookend” AM technicians’ school-to-career pathways. To determine the extent to which the 2019-2020 Florida AM Curriculum Framework aligns to the Department of Labor’s Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model, we used text mining to extract and compare the key competencies found in both documents. Through this approach, we compared these documents and identified: 1) frequently addressed topics; 2) verbs that guided the complexity (i.e., Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Learning Objectives cognitive level) of the course learning task versus workplace competency; and 3) overall match between the documents. Our results suggest that the documents overlap very little, with significant misalignments in higher-level Bloom’s verbs. We present implications for educational institutions, AM policy makers, and industry; suggest a revision cycle and process; and propose an ongoing assessment model to improve the congruence between what employers want and what is taught in two-year AM degree programs. 
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  5. In this research paper, we report our assessment of the congruence between two-year advanced manufacturing (AM) program syllabi to employer needs expressed in the Department of Labor’s (DOL) AM Competency Model. The dynamic AM industry relies on two-year AM technician program graduates from state and community colleges. These program curricula are mandated to reflect state career and technology education (CTE) curriculum frameworks, but the frameworks are not designed to measure graduates' abilities to meet AM employers’ current needs. Because this technology-reliant industry changes so quickly, faculty are challenged to source, develop, and implement responsive educational experiences. Through consultation with industry leaders, the Department of Labor (DOL) developed an AM competency model to illustrate and promote workers’ necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions. To determine whether the AM competency model can function as an exit assessment for AM program graduates, we compared AM program syllabi from five rural Northwest Florida state colleges to the DOL AM Competency Model. We text-mined competencies in both syllabi and the AM Competency Model and compared them to identify: 1) frequently addressed topics; 2) verbs guiding course learning outcomes versus the skill depth desired by employers; and 3) overall match between documents. Our findings indicate that despite being developed to reflect the same curriculum framework, the five AM programs’ topical and complexity emphases varied widely. Overall, AM Competency Model content reflected higher levels of the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, highlighting industry commitments to fostering analysis, evaluation, and creation. We conclude with implications for educational institutions, AM policymakers, and industry, outline the need for an AM Body of Knowledge, and propose an ongoing assessment model to improve the congruence between what employers want and what is taught in two-year AM degree programs. 
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  6. In this research paper, we explore how advanced manufacturing has led South Korea’s economy for the past several decades. It accounts for 4.5 million jobs, which is about 10% of South Korea’s population. However, the era of the Industry 4.0 is transforming the nature of the workforce in advanced manufacturing industry. Many workers could lose their jobs to automation, but it is likely that they will also find new jobs in similar occupation. Thus, it will be crucial for various stakeholders in the industry: employee, employers, educators, and policy akers to prepare for this changing nature of the workforce. However, our review of policy and research suggests that little is known about the extent to which South Korea is ready for the changing nature of the workforce in advanced manufacturing industry. In this paper, we will explore South Korea’s readiness for the change in advanced manufacturing workforce. Specifically, we will provide a review of literature relating to the impact of automation in advanced manufacturing workforce and how South Korea is preparing workers for the Industry 4.0. We conclude with promising directions for research. Taken together, this paper will offer several promising directions for further investigation into how South Korea can prepare for the impact of automation in advanced manufacturing workforce 
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  7. A subset of manufacturing, the advanced manufacturing (AM) sector is defined using two criteria:high levels of spending for research and development (R&D) and a high share of STEM jobs within companies. In northwestFlorida, AM employment is concentrated in two sub-sectors (3259-Other Chemicals and 3344-Semiconductor) and in 2015, constituted 24.6% of theregion’s total employment [1, 2]. Guided by the overarching research question (RQ) “To what extent do curriculum content, employer needs, and student experiences align within an advanced manufacturing educational pathway,” this study’s goals are to 1) investigate the role AM program pathways have in meeting the needs of employers and new professionals who are employed in the region; 2) expand the research base and curriculum content recommendations for entrepreneur and intrapreneur education; 3) build regional capacity for AM program assessment and improvement by replicating, refining, and disseminating study approaches through further research, annual meetings with the AM employer and education community, and an academy which lead state college and university researchers, in collaboration with educational organization, to empower ruralNW Florida colleges. 
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  8. In this work-in-progress paper, we present the preliminary results of semi-structured interviews conducted with advanced manufacturing (AM) employers in rural communities to understand the workplace skills they seek. This study, part of a larger effort to document Northwest Florida’s rural AM employers’ desired competencies, identified employability skills valuable for entry-level technician positions. The employers who participated in this study represented the growing AM industry sub-sectors of timber, pipeline, and textiles. Our findings suggest that rural employers face challenges common to all AM employers: 1) the need for workplace skills, such as a strong commitment to teamwork and ongoing professional development; and 2) difficulties in encouraging employees’ transitions from job to career pathway, thus increasing their in-field persistence. These results have implications for educational institutions that offer AM degrees and for graduates who seek rural employment in the AM field. 
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  9. To meet the rising skill demands of the dynamic advanced manufacturing (AM) industry, two-year AM programs must produce well-trained graduates. This need is especially marked in Florida because the state is an AM leader, producing intermediate and finished products ranging from plastics to tortillas to motor vehicles. In total, Florida is home to over 20,000 AM companies employing over 320,000 workers. Florida is also geographically diverse, being simultaneously one of the most urban and one of the most rural highly populous states in the country. To characterize Florida's AM employment needs, we sought to determine how AM jobs were distributed across the state. We analyzed 108 job postings from Florida employers who were seeking manufacturing and engineering technicians through publicly available job postings. We used text mining to extract the knowledge areas and verbs in the documents that AM employers identified in job postings and desired from their entry-level employees. We compared those topics and verbs to the ones found in the Florida Department of Education's (FLDoE) AM curriculum framework for two-year programs. We found varying levels of alignment, and, in some instances, misalignment, between employers' desired topics and competency levels and those found in FLDoE Frameworks. Our findings not only highlight the importance of industry-education partnerships to tailor preparation to employer needs, but also suggest that a deeper exploration and analysis of AM jobs is needed to further determine alignment to FLDoE frameworks. We conclude that the FLDoE framework may be used as a foundation, but not the sole source, for important AM knowledge areas. 
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  10. In this research paper, we compare Florida’s AM employer demands and academic requirements to state mandated AM curriculum guidelines. Florida is an AM leader, producing intermediate and finished products ranging from plastics to tortillas to motor vehicles. In total, Florida is home to over 20,000 AM companies employing over 320,000 workers. Florida is also geographically diverse, being simultaneously one of the most urban and one of the most rural highly populous states in the country. To characterize Florida’s AM employment needs, we analyzed 108 job postings from Florida employers who were seeking manufacturing and engineering technicians through publicly available job postings. Text mining was used to extract key knowledge areas (or topics) and verbs in these documents that AM employers identified in job postings and desired from their entry-level employees. We compared those topics and verbs to the ones found in the Florida Department of Education’s (FLDoE) AM curriculum framework for two-year programs. We found varying levels of alignment, and, in some instances, misalignment, between employers’ desired topics and competency levels and those found in FLDoE Frameworks. Our findings not only highlight the importance of industry-education partnerships to tailor preparation to employer needs, but also suggest that a deeper exploration and analysis of AM jobs is needed to further determine alignment to FLDoE frameworks. We conclude that the FLDoE framework may be used as a foundation, but not the sole source, for important AM knowledge areas, leaving opportunity for the development of an AM body of knowledge that reflects employer expectations and geographic variations. 
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