AIM stands for Advanced Integrated Manufacturing, a promising new program being rolled out by Thomas Nelson Community College. The AIM program’s goal is to create the 21st century workforce this region’s economy needs to thrive and grow. Specifically, it will produce multi-skilled technicians who are capable of performing the variety of functions required in a highly automated and digitally-controlled advanced manufacturing environment.
The results of AIM will be a Win-Win, producing benefits for:
- AIM-trained individuals
- Our region’s economy
Individuals will benefit by being qualified for thousands of manufacturing jobs that pay
well, are interesting, and offer opportunity for advancement and continued technical education. Advanced manufacturers are eager to hire workers with:
- project-based learning
- critical thinking skills
- problem-solving skills
- ability to work in a team
- ability to innovate
The regional economy will benefit from AIM- trained individuals by:
- filling current vacant advanced manufacturing jobs
- filling projected new positions
- attracting new advanced manufacturing companies to locate
- here, because we have the skilled workforce they require
- enhancing the region’s technical and competitive economic
- saving time and money for nationwide worker recruitment
- and the cost of vacant positions
- creating other support jobs
Thomas Nelson’s AIM Program
Government and business leaders have identified the importance of preparing the workforce to meet the specific needs of employers requiring skilled workers. Thomas Nelson has responded by introducing the AIM program. A chief architect of AIM is Stewart Harris, a career professional in aerospace manufacturing and engineering. He says, “Advanced Manufacturing is a broad category requiring several components in our AIM program. We have defined two ‘tracks’ leading to an Associate Degree: Advanced Integrated Manufacturing (AIM), a two- year degree, which is currently enrolling new students and includes internships and co-op experience. The Mechatronics Technology degree is currently being developed. In addition, we offer Career Studies Certificates that require less time, prepare students for Siemens certification and are pre-requisites for ultimately earning the associate degree.”
Harris continues, “In 2014, Thomas Nelson received a $2.5 million Department of Labor grant to fund Mechatronics and an accelerated, 8-week program for Rapid Employment in Advanced Integrated Manufacturing. This program is designed for transitioning veterans, dislocated, and unemployed workers, and includes certifications and job placement services to fill needed entry-level production and technician positions.”
The AIM curriculum focuses on project-based instruction, with required co-op rotations. The AIM track curriculum provides a broad understanding of manufacturing and system design. It includes electronics, mechanical, instrumentation,
“As we reach out to high school students, their parents, and career counselors, we are learning that we must change the pre-conceptions about today’s manufacturing jobs. These are not jobs of last resort. They are not dirty, dull, dead- ends in a dying industry. These are clean, well-compensated, challenging growth opportunities. High school students must be encouraged to develop their math and science skills so they are well-positioned to take advantage of the AIM program and certification to build their successful careers.”
composites, and additive manufacturing. The Mechatronics curriculum focuses on equipment repair, trouble-shooting, and application of automated systems. It covers electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, pneumatics, and computer systems, and prepares students for Siemens certification, an internationally recognized credential.
The curriculum develops technical skills in metals technology, composites technology, industrial electronics technology, and measurement technology. Both tracks develop needed non-technical skills: working as a team, systems integration, problem-solving,innovation, effective communication, and personal reliability.
“Thomas Nelson is committed to addressing the need for skilled workers,” states Harris. “Academia has to work at the rapid speed of business. We are certain that our programs will lead to industry having the workers it needs. But we have one other challenge, which is to create a strong pipeline of candidates for these degrees and certificates.