As a college, why would I want to adopt the AMT Program?
On the one hand, the Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways and the AMT (Advanced Manufacturing Technician) Program is a very different types of activities than typical college and university programs. They bring a lot of change, the need for a lot of flexibility, and a lot of paradigm shifts to an adopting college that wishes to successfully implement them. On the other hand, they bring some very powerful assets, advantages, and recognition to those schools which do agree to offer them in partnership with a local FAME group, and are powerfully strong programs and career pathways for your students. Several national educators think that the AMT Program is the best 2-year technical program in the U.S. The Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways are a unique activity in the U.S..
What are some of the real advantages of being a partner with this program?
One of the first that a community college administrator or program chair might note is that you will gain a whole new set of recruiters – for free! In the AMT Program it is the responsibility of the employer group – the FAME group – to lead recruiting for the program (though your school needs to provide significant help and support). Employers are taught in this program that they should be responsible for their own talent, and that includes recruiting right from the beginning those that they think will be most successful for their company. Employers will be visiting high school classrooms, conducting open houses, leading tours of their facilities, and more to attract the best students. Selected candidates will be directed to enroll at your school.
The caliber of incoming AMT students is very high, typically much higher than the typical student starting a community college technical program. Many (more than half in several local programs) are well qualified to enter a 4-year engineering program. As a minimum entry standard, all AMT students will start the program “college ready,” needing no special remedial work. These very strong students will enhance the strength of your school, add to student accomplishments, and add to your academic reputation.
About 70% of those who start the program will graduate, and will graduate on time. This is a significantly higher percentage than is typical for the newly enrolled student in almost any degreed program. Further, GPA’s will be – on the average – very high. AMT graduates significantly over-populate the category of those that graduate with honors.
Placement of graduate in lucrative, high paying jobs will be near 100%.
Best practices from AMT can be considered for other programs. There are many good practices that are unique to the AMT Program which you may find of benefit to scale to other programs, from recruiting to student management to teaching techniques to professional development and more.
Speaking of professional development, almost all professional development activities and classes for AMT instructors and program administrators are free. Your cost is primarily travel and lodging. The significant majority of schools, so far, have used Perkins funds for those costs, making this aspect of the program yet more attractive.
While employers are not obligated to provide specific funding or equipment as part of their partnership in AMT, the actual experience to date has been that employers have donated and provided a great deal to their College or University Partners, and continue to do so. The partnership with employers in this program is dramatically closer than in typical programs. Because employers see and experience the benefit of the program much more directly they are more motivated to be materially supportive. Donations by employers in the AMT Program, both directly and with in-kind donations, has exceeded $1M over the last 3-4 years. If donations to programs which both provide new students to AMT and help to develop them are counted, it exceeds $2M.
The program has significant national recognition, including having won national awards, been sponsored on a NASCAR racing car, and featured on the Time, Inc. and Fortune national websites. An immediate measure of credibility comes with partnership with the program.
It may be easier to get grants and other benefits for the program. The program, designed from the employer side, is a heavy-hitter on the measures typically considered for grant and funding requests. Beyond that, it brings a set of committed employers ready to sign letters of support for grant and funding requests. It makes grants and other competitive funding opportunities easier to get.
What are some of the unique features of the AMT Program, from the college perspective?
AMT students attend school only 2 days per week and are present for 8+ contact hours on those days. As the number of AMT students grow the school will likely have students present for 4 days per week. As an example, some cohorts may attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays while other cohorts attend on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The AMT Program, the academic portion of which is provided by a College Partner (2-year college) has three core components to its “major,” which are all considered of equal importance. The AMT core is: (1) Technology; (2) the Professional Behaviors (attendance, initiative, diligence, interpersonal relations, teamwork, and communication); and (3) the Manufacturing Core Exercises (MCE’s), consisting of: Safety Culture; Visual Workplace Organization (5S); Lean Manufacturing; Problem Solving; and Machine Reliability. AMT faculty are responsible for teaching and developing students in all of these areas.
The “AMT Day” at the college consists of both credit courses and non-credit structured activities. These include attending credit classes, working on and sustaining 5S activity in the AMC, working on and sustaining safety practice in the AMC, organizing a number of activities (such as the AMT Safety Discussion before each class), work and activity to complete the MCE workbooks, end-of-semester MCE presentations, and much more. AMT-designated faculty instructors facilitate these activities. Since faculty instructors facilitate and coordinate a mix of both credit and non-credit activities, school administration may need to give consideration to how faculty instructors are paid.
Enrollment in the AMT Program is not open entry. Like many health care programs, for example, it is selective and candidates must competitively seek positions in the new starting class each year.
The number of students accepted each year will vary based on employer input, even if there are an abundance of candidates. During the summer or early Fall employers will determine how many job opening that they expect to have and then – taking expected attrition into account – will select an appropriate number of to meet those needs. This basically yields ‘enough” candidates, not too many and not too few.
What is required of a school that is a College Partner in the AMT Program?
You must provide an adequate open space for a manufacturing simulation area, to be called the “Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC).” About 2000 sf is the absolute minimum needed, and it will need to be equipped to provide the program. There are six minimum requirements for the AMC. Your company partners may be able to help you with some of the needs, but whatever help they may provide would need to be worked out with them in your local area.
You must provide a sufficient number of AMT-designated instructors. While these instructors may also teach non-AMT classes, they will be the ones that always teach the AMT students. They will be provided with immediate and with ongoing professional training and experiences so that their capability is continuously strengthening.
The program is managed and led by the local FAME group of employers and you are one of the critical partners to help assure program success. Your school will need to be highly participative and engaged with the employers in the management and operation of the program. As a minimum, there will be monthly meetings that must be attended. Other activities may require additional meetings and activities.
There are several standardized practices and teaching and learning methods designed into the AMT Program which the College Partner agrees to use as part of adopting the program. While there is more than ample room for faculty flexibility (and, in fact, this flexibility helps to identify new best practices to drive continuous improvement), AMT faculty will need to adopt and use the standardized practice in the ongoing provision of the program.
As part of managing professional development and local chapter learning, there are two key conferences each year that the school must attend (selected AMT students from your program, sponsored by their companies, will also attend). In May there is the Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways/AMT Conference. In October there is the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) Conference.
All AMT faculty and certain program leaders must be trained to effectively provide and manage the program in order to help achieve global-best practice. At least once each year there is an “AMT Academy” which provides instruction for those starting up new programs, or for new personnel in exiting programs. You must ensure that your program providers and leaders stay up to date with all program training. Again, in the majority of cases in the past, Perkins funds have been able to support this training.
AMT faculty should be on 12 month contracts. The AMT Program operates for the full 12 months, and there is work to do beyond the classroom. A program can’t achieve global-best status on part-time work. All AMT-designated instructors need to be on-deck for the full year.
How does my college get involved with the AMT Program?
Here’s a real paradigm change. Your school – on its own – cannot make a decision to offer AMT. The program is employer owned and driven there must be a local group of employers who have come together and collectively made the decision to start a FAME group and to implement the program. With that necessary organization in place, then it may be possible for your school to be chosen by the FAME group as the AMT College Partner.
If employers in your area haven’t yet come together to discuss starting a FAME chapter and implementing the AMT Program, all is not lost, however. There are a few examples in which the college took the initiative to explore the program, learn how it works, and then reached out to local employers to get them engaged. The employers then took the initiative and the school and FAME then proceeded together to start AMT. If you’re interested and think that this might be a route in which you’re interested, please contact us and we can connect you with those who found their way to AMT through this door in the past.