Learning: Scholarship, research, lectures, online tools, tours help fill engineering skills gap

Helping to fill the engineering skills gap a new partnership between the University of Virginia and a Fortune 500 company promises benefits including technology related scholarships, research and free lectures. Separately Glatfelter presents a 20-minute online mill tour work processes and related controls, and live plant tours start tomorrow via Advanced Technology Services.

By Control Engineering Staff October 6, 2008

Charlottesville, VA and York, PA — Among recent efforts to fill the skills gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are a new partnership between the University of Virginia and a Fortune 500 company promises benefits including technology related scholarships, research and free lectures. Separately Glatfelter presents a 20-minute online mill tour,

Glatfelter launches its first Interactive Mill Tour showing how renewable wood resources are used

The University of Virginia Engineering School is partnering with Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) to support programs and research. The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has strengthened its relationship with the Fortune 500 company with a five-year master research agreement to support a collaborative, cyber-security speaker series co-hosted by the Engineering School. SAIC, a San Diego-based scientific, engineering and technology applications company, will provide funding for student research projects and scholarships for SAIC employees.
The first lecture on cyber conflict, cyber deterrence, and imperatives in national cyber security was presented last week by Robert J. Giesler, SAIC’s vice president for cyber programs in the Mechanical Engineering building on the University grounds. The free lectures are open to the public.
The alliance is mutually beneficial according to Dean James H. Aylor, supporting the university’s educational programs, research, and technology transfer efforts. SAIC says it will benefit from being on the radar of qualified engineering graduates and from access to commercially viable research.
“Maintaining strong ties to universities is important for a science-and-technology based company like SAIC,” said John Thomas, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager. “We see the pursuit of joint research and educational initiatives as highly important in meeting future challenges in business and technology.”
SAIC, with approximately 44,000 employees, works to solve problems in national security, energy and the environment, critical infrastructure, and health. One of its major units, the Cyber Program Management Office, is based in McLean, VA. Its clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. government civil agencies and selected commercial markets.
The master research agreement, a keystone of the alliance will enable prompt funding of research over a five-year period. With the agreement in place, the school will be able to more easily roll out faculty projects, including wireless technology and data mining research.

Research money, scholarships, and lectures are among ways to promote engineering.

SAIC will offer research stipends from $5,000 to $20,000 to fund graduate or undergraduate student projects. The money will support research that addresses technical challenges and issues of interest to SAIC and its customers, including cyber security, knowledge management, and large data networks.

The Engineering School plans to host a cyber-security lecture series to serve as an educational experience for students, faculty, and SAIC employees. This will involve faculty traveling to SAIC in McLean for four lectures and SAIC employees coming to the school for an additional four lectures. Select SAIC employees will receive scholarships for the 18 months of the University’s Systems Engineering Accelerated Masters Program, a high-intensity program that readies graduates for consulting positions that fit the SAIC business model.

Virtual tours: Interactive mill tour (see site image near top of page)

Glatfelter launches its first Interactive Mill Tour on the company Website. It’s not often that one has a chance to take a personally-guided, behind-the-scenes tour to see how renewable wood resources are used to make paper for books, stamps, envelopes, greeting cards, carbonless forms, and specialty products.
The tour brings Glatfelter’s Spring Grove, PA and Chillicothe, OH, paper mills to life through rich illustrations, photography, video, and detailed animation. Viewers are led through two fully integrated Kraft pulp and paper mills on a 20-minute journey that begins with a tree and ends with the finished paper product.

Viewers will learn how Glatfelter manages its environmental footprint by practicing sustainable forestry, making use of biomass for fuels, utilizing green chemistry to help improve the efficiency of its pulp-bleaching process, and achieving chain-of-custody triple forestry certifications (FSC, SFI, PEFC) at both its North American facilities. The video tour, available on CD, can be viewed in its entirety or in shorter segments and is suitable for training and educational seminars. A CD-ROM is available.

Actual tours: See plants across America this month,
Advanced Technology Services Inc. (ATS) an “up close” look at ATS’ maintenance programs in action. Attendees will witness first hand the strategic advantage that comes from a targeted maintenance program. ATS pioneered the factory asset maintenance business over 20 years ago. 

ATS says the tour couldn’t be timelier, given the current economic environment. In a Nielsen Research survey conducted of 100 U.S. senior manufacturing executives with titles of CEO, CIO, vice president and plant manager, two-thirds said they would outsource maintenance as a hedge against a downturn in the economy.from ATS, they have dramatically reduced downtime. Manufacturers say downtime is expensive, costing an average $22,000 per minute, as much as $31 million daily, when production stops. 

October 2008 tour dates and hosts include …
Oct. 7, 2008– Honda Manufacturing of Alabama – Lincoln, AL;
Oct. 8– Caterpillar – Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; 
Oct. 15– MasterBrand Cabinets– Littlestown, PA; 
Oct. 16– Eaton Electrical – Greenwood, SC; and 
Oct. 29– Service Heat Treating – Milwaukee, WI

Trade shows and conferences also offer learning opportunties. Control Engineering provides an automation event calendar with links .

Also read a Control Engineering article about closing the engineering skills gap

Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, and Control Engineering News Desk
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