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Maker spaces & 'boot camps' are California's new feeders for technical skills

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on March 17, 2016

Maker and co-working spaces, sometimes known as "boot camps", are becoming key intersections between regional manufacturers' needs and local students' skills development. They create the ability for students to learn quickly the skills they need to get a high wage opportunity with a regional manufacturer who needs technical workers.

A recent example got our attention. Tyler Hill, a Sierra College Electro Mechanical Engineering major from Lincoln, California, recently got a job working for a consumer transaction technology manufacturer, NCR Corporation, in part because of his participation in a maker space "boot camp" for entrepreneurs in the northern California area. 

The camp known as Hacker Lab / Startup Hustle partnered with Sierra College and the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies in a private public partnership to improve students’ employability.

Hill had joined Hacker Lab to access the CNC and laser cutting tools, and then applied to participate in Startup Hustle to work on the home automation system he developed with another student. “Putting this experience on my resume helped me stand out and get a job as an ATM Engineer,” said Hill.  “I enjoy the work and am even more confident in my plan to transfer to a California State University engineering program.”

“Employers are seeking innovators who will develop better products to meet customers’ needs and contribute to business growth,” said Willy Duncan, Superintendent/President, Sierra College Joint Community College District. “At Hacker Lab, Sierra College students work alongside a diverse group of experts and artisans to test and hone skills learned in their college classes. As a result, students add practical experience and cutting edge skills in coding, virtual reality and 3D printing to their resumes.”

Hill explained that he developed new skills to create a prototype product at Hacker Lab. “I had no idea how to make a printed circuit board,” said Hill. “But after three weeks of practice at Hacker Lab, I could make a perfect board from scratch.”

Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Director, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, Sierra College, helped plan the Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College in Rocklin. “To attract students to Advanced Manufacturing careers and provide businesses access to technology and training, Sierra College equipped the maker space with electronics, 3D printers, laser cutter and CNC router,” said Pepper-Kittredge.

Startup Hustle teams attend weekly online and in-person training sessions led by successful founders of businesses. In addition, industry mentors coach the teams. “The mentors were genius,” said Hill. “They were more than technical experts; they collaborated with us to think through sales and marketing.”

In just one year, Sacramento-based Hacker Lab worked with Sierra College to find an off-campus location in Rocklin, California, fill it with equipment, attract 140 members (50 percent students) and offer education events attended by over 1,000 people.

These non-traditional boot camps increasingly feed specific technically skilled workers to regional manufacturers and create tremendous opportunities for growth for students.

CMTA is learning more about how we can help foster more of these partnerships to grow the next generation of California manufacturers.

Here are some other stories about Startup Hustle participants.





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