Robert Bosch LLC and Mark Lenz were presented the Silver Star of Excellence Award during ATEA’s 46th National Conference on Technical Education, March 11-13, 2009 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This award is presented jointly by the American Technical Education Association and the National Technical Honor Society. It is presented annually to a company that is supportive and committed to postsecondary technical education. Nominations for the award are from postsecondary technical institutions in letter form identifying specific contributions to technical education such as: donations of equipment, facilities, training, financial assistance, internships, advisory committee members and the company’s impact on technical education. The Tennessee Technology Center at Dickson-Clarksville Campus (TTC) nominated Robert Bosch LLC and Mark Lenz, Bosch Senior Training and Development Leader, for the Silver Star of Excellence Award. In addition to the award, Mark Lenz will be listed in the NTHS National Hall of Fame for Educational Excellence.
For the past two years, TTC and Robert Bosch LLC’s site in Clarksville, Tennessee have worked hand in hand to develop a Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program. Mark Lenz served as lead on the project. The development process benefited from his experiences with similar programs in both Bosch’s sites in Sumter and Charleston, South Carolina.
The project was a result of skill needs identified by the Bosch Clarksville Plant. A search to identify a high quality, cost effective supplier for technical training ensued, resulting in the selection of TTC at Dickson’s Clarksville Extension Campus.
Andy Greene, Maintenance Manager for Bosch, and Lenz worked closely with the staff of TTC to develop the apprenticeship, and maintenance Mechatronics training program. The timing of this project coincided with the Tennessee Board of Regent’s (TBR) plan to upgrade equipment state-wide due to $18 million in funding from the Tennessee State Legislature. All 27 Technology Centers were tasked with assessing the needs for the programs at their respective centers, based on a per program allocation by TBR. Advisory Committees, consisting of representatives from local businesses and industries, were involved to ensure upgrades were aligned with their present and future needs.
The Bosch Clarksville Plant demonstrated its involvement by donating idled equipment, tooling, cabinets, and out of date work benches to TTC. TTC also invested in their programs to improve the equipment and shop areas. New lighting, painted walls, and additional improvements, including a high grade manufacturing finish for the shop floor created a more professional appearance.
Bosch donated items and new upgraded equipment began arriving for both the Industrial Maintenance and Machine Tool programs. Advice on facility upgrades and assistance in transferring equipment was provided by David Thompson, Sr. Facilities Supervisor at Bosch. Ray Usina, Senior BPS Implementor, volunteered to train the TTC staff in workplace organization to establish 5S standards used in most industries today. In parallel, Lenz and Greene of Bosch and the TTC staff worked to combine portions of both the Machine Tool and Industrial Maintenance Technology curriculums for the new Apprenticeship Program. A curriculum spanning four Trimesters was mutually agreed upon. During the last two Trimesters the Apprentices will spend two days per week receiving on the job training from experts in the Clarksville Plant.
Robert Bosch LLC continues to demonstrate its commitment by paying tuition, books and tooling costs. Apprentices are also paid their regular hourly wages and benefits while attending 40 to 48 hours of training per week. Every class is supplemented by existing Bosch Technicians who are there to upgrade and refresh their knowledge.
The Mechatronics curriculum does not meet the requirements for a diploma in Machine Tool or the Industrial Maintenance Technology programs. However, a proposal for a Mechatronics Diploma program is being drafted for consideration by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration Office of Apprenticeship in Nashville, Tennessee has approved the Standards of Apprenticeship developed by Robert Bosch LLC for the occupations of Industrial Machine Systems Technician, with an emphasis in Mechatronics.
This project was an example of what can be accomplished through collaboration and sharing of mutual resources. Together Robert Bosch LLC and TTC have blended elements of two programs to transfer the skills need for today’s multi-skilled technicians.