Invest UP Helping Local Colleges Expand Mechatronics Offerings

From Results Radio Network, October 17, 2022

InvestUP, the Upper Peninsula’s regional economic development organization, together with support from Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and other vital partners across the U.P., has convened an initiative aimed at supporting the demand for advanced manufacturing talent.

The training and job placement program, called UP Pathways to Employment in Manufacturing, began this fall. It is open to the general public who meet the following criteria: high school graduates, early career workers, displaced workers, and others seeking new career opportunities.

A webinar on Oct. 25 will provide additional details, followed by opportunities to virtually meet one-on-one with representatives of the higher education partners.

Fifty-one percent of the program’s trainees must be from low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. This supports the initiative’s goal to reduce barriers for people who meet LMI income thresholds, such as costs associated with further education. The initiative is backed by a Regional Talent Innovation grant and part of a Community Development Block Grant — CARES Acts funding allocated to MEDC.

The colleges are designing their trainings to last from two days to eight weeks in areas related to mechatronics, such as medical device and advanced electronics manufacturing, software and systems support, and more. The goal is to help fill just over 300 manufacturing positions needed across the U.P. Access to training will conclude in late summer of 2023. Trainees will receive a certificate of completion and will be provided with job placement and advancement assistance.

“Mechatronics is a fast-growing, high-demand field,” explains InvestUP Director of Business Initiatives Amy Berglund. “Skilled workers have great potential for advancement and higher-wage employment. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for opportunities to advance in your career, we encourage you to invest some time in your future by enrolling in one of these innovative programs.”

InvestUP will help expand existing training opportunities at four UP higher education institutions: Bay College, Gogebic Community College, Michigan Technological University, and Northern Michigan University. Each institution will deliver its own unique training program designed to address local employers’ demand and needs.

For example, NMU will offer four manufacturing and cyber training opportunities for eligible applicants. They include a two-week manufacturing production boot camp (hybrid of online and hands-on); a two-week hands-on welding training; a four-week online medical device advanced manufacturing training; and an online, ten-week Cisco Certification Technician training to build skills needed for working with Cisco data center system devices and operating software.

More information about these and the other programs will be posted on individual university websites as well as InvestUP’s website in the coming weeks.

A Mobile Lab operated by Michigan Tech is a key asset. The lab is a self-powered, expandable, 53-foot semi-trailer with spacious room that can be used as a classroom or configured for hands-on experiential learning. The Mobile Lab will support the project by providing both outreach and training offered by Michigan Tech. The programming will be delivered at strategic locations across the U.P. to maximize its impact on targeted participants.

“There is enormous opportunity for skilled workers trained in advanced manufacturing,” notes Adam Paltzer, Vice President of Operations at Able Medical Devices. “The high-tech medical device sector is booming. Our industry needs trained people right now to help us keep pace with a steady stream of new innovations and advancements.”

Berglund adds that this program is a win-win for both workers and manufacturers. “Reskilling people with mechatronics training opens up higher-wage opportunities for workers, while helping companies fill a critical need. This collaborative effort has yielded some innovative, sustainable, and efficient programs with the potential to build a mechatronics workforce that we need now and in the future.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 3:00 PM EST InvestUP will host a virtual informational webinar and meetings with UP Michigan Works! and the participating universities. The webinar will provide an overview of the program as well as eligibility requirements and details on the trainings offered through the MEDC grant.

Following the general overview, attendees will have an opportunity to meet with the higher education partners one-on-one at their respective virtual booths. Registration for the webinar and meetings is required.

Visit Questions can be directed to Amy Berglund, Director of Business Initiatives at InvestUP

For more information about individual training programs, please contact:

Bay College — Renée Lundberg at (906) 217-4224
Gogebic Community College — Glen Ackerman-Behr at (906) 307-1234
Michigan Technological University Mobile Lab — Vinicius Bonfochi Vinhaes (906) 370-3878
Northern Michigan University — Stephanie Zadroga-Langlois at (906) 227-1683