NSF's National Science Board held one of four skilled technical workforce listening sessions in South Carolina
On Wednesday, September 26th , members from NSB and NSF visited FDTC’s SiMT to hold one of four Skilled Technical Workforce Listening Sessions.
On Wednesday, September 26th , members from the National Science Board (NSB) and the National Science Foundation visited Florence-Darlington Technical college (FDTC)’s Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SiMT) to hold one of four Skilled Technical Workforce Listening Sessions. Board 'listening sessions' are designed to understand educational gaps in building the next generation of skilled, technical workforce. Prior to having this listening session in South Carolina, NSB held three other listening sessions on the Skilled Technical Workforce in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Warren, Michigan; and Alexandria, Virginia.
The goal for this event was to add to the Board’s broader understanding about an issue of great interest to the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as to Congress, the Administration, the science and engineering community, and other stakeholders.
Members of the NSB conducted the listening session to gain insights and perceptions around the following areas: 1) The stigma and lack of awareness that currently exists around community colleges and technical training. 2) The skills gap of students. 3) Human resource practices that often exclude qualified skilled workers. 4) The socio-economic barriers that many community college students still face. 5) The lack of racial and gender diversity that is also common in technical fields.
As a part of the event, members from the NSB and NSF toured the SiMT Building as well. The tour included the Additive Manufacturing and Advanced Machining areas, the Social Media Listening Center, the Gould Business Incubator, and the Interactive Production Studio. “For National Science Board members and staff alike, touring the SiMT facility was one of the highlights of our visit to Florence-Darlington Technical College,” said Victor McCrary, chair of NSB’s Skilled Technical Workforce Task Force and a member of the NSB. “We especially appreciated the opportunity to interact with, and learn from the students, faculty, and staff in the different technical program areas offered at the SiMT.”
In addition to the tour, members from NSB and NSF also heard several presentations from local industry partners. Those included hearing overviews about Francis Marion University Industrial Engineering and FDTC 2+2 Program and the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and SC Launch program.
Following the NSB Facilitated Listening Session on the Skilled Technical Workforce, the South Carolina Advanced Technical Education (SCATE) Center of Excellence along with the SC Department of Commerce’s Department of Innovation hosted a 3Phase workshop that convened the following day. The workshop focused on funding opportunities for small businesses through the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
Board members had an opportunity to engage with start-up entrepreneurs and local government officials working to provide an environment that fosters growth and success among small tech businesses in South Carolina. Consortium participants included the regional industry, South Carolina Department of Commerce, the South Carolina Research Authority, and the technology incubator community at FTDC.
According to Rick Roberts, managing director for the SCATE Center of Excellence at FDTC “Growing the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce through pathways to technology is critical for our national economy and overall competitiveness. The NSB and the NSF are catalysts for this growth, so it was very important for the Board to hear from what is happening in our region to address the industry need for a skilled technical workforce.” NSB is NSF’s governing board and advises Congress and the President on science policy issues. NSF is also the only federal agency to support fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.