CPCC delegation traveling to Germany, will meet with manufacturing partners

last modified Apr 19, 2017 12:05 PM

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is sending four faculty and administrative staff members to the Karlsruhe region of Germany in late-April to meet with manufacturing partners who have facilities in the Charlotte region and tour their Karlsruhe factories and training centers.

One key area of discussion will be best practices in digital learning. The CPCC team will provide updates on the college’s advanced manufacturing mechatronics curriculum digitization project and hear presentations from Karlsruhe-area schools on their digital learning initiatives.

“This team of CPCC faculty and administrators represents the college’s expertise in partnering with German industry and providing state-of-the-art training for our German and central European employers in the Charlotte region,” explained Chris Paynter, CPCC dean of STEM programs and a member of the delegation.

To better serve the large concentration of German and central European manufacturers in the greater Charlotte region, CPCC established a unique training partnership in 2012 with the Industrie-und Handelskammer-Karlsruhe (IHK-Karlsruhe or IHK-K). The institutional function in Germany of the regional Industrie-und Handelskammer (IHK) is somewhat equivalent to American city or county chambers of commerce. This partnership has produced many tangible benefits for CPCC and its students as the college works with international and domestic employers in the Charlotte region.

A total of 55 students have received IHK-K-endorsed certificates, recognized by German manufacturers, since the partnership began in 2012. Approximately 90 students are on track to earn IHK-endorsed certificates as they complete their respective associate degree programs.

Activities in the CPCC-IHK-K training partnership include:

  • Faculty and staff exchanges between CPCC and the Karlsruhe Chamber;
  • Alignment of CPCC courses to German competencies in advanced technologies;
  • CPCC, UNC Charlotte and industry partners host delegation visits from IHK-K and member businesses;
  • Faculty professional development during factory and college tours in Germany; and
  • Administrator and staff learning from exposure to the German dual model of education.

Benefits to CPCC from IHK-Karlsruhe partnership include:

  • Detailed certificates of competency for graduates in the CPCC programs endorsed by IHK-K;
  • Recruitment of German employers to Charlotte and partners for CPCC programs;
  • Direct input on emerging technologies for CPCC faculty;
  • The establishment of international apprenticeships for CPCC students;
  • Deepened understanding of the German apprenticeship model for adaptation into other N.C. community college programs; and
  • Shared new methods of teaching in advanced manufacturing technologies.

“European companies, particularly those from Germany, now know Charlotte can provide a workforce trained to their exact specifications. We think this gives Charlotte and CPCC students a distinct competitive advantage,” Paynter added.

In 2014, the White House, U.S. Dept. of Labor and U.S. Dept. of Education announced CPCC would receive a job training grant of $2.5 million to support the college’s “Mechatronics Re-Envisioned” project. CPCC is using the grant in part to develop new digital courses to enhance training in the high-tech field of mechatronics and support the advanced manufacturing companies in the Charlotte region.

CPCC’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program prepares students for jobs requiring electrical and mechanical engineering knowledge as well as advanced computer skills. This breadth of knowledge and skills are needed to operate the complex systems found in advanced manufacturing. CPCC was one of the first community colleges in the U.S. to develop and offer a program in mechatronics.

Joining Paynter as members of the CPCC-to-Karlsruhe delegation are Mike Hogan, associate dean of STEM programs; Jami Dale, mechatronics engineering program chair; and Dominic Mascari, computer integrated machining instructor.