Pathway & Project-Based Learning in Automotive & Aerospace Manufacturing

With ARC support, North Carolina’s Isothermal Community College (ICC) has raised community awareness of career opportunities available in the manufacturing sector, enhanced manufacturing-related curriculum and pathways at the secondary and post-secondary levels, and is preparing students for gainful employment in the manufacturing, automotive, and aerospace industries. In collaboration with Rutherford and Polk County Schools, ICC prepares students for technical careers in advanced manufacturing, and emphasizing the skills, credentials and experience necessary to work for automotive and manufacturing suppliers.

In addition, high school students have the opportunity to enroll in college-level manufacturing courses, tour the campus and training spaces, and utilize training equipment on-site. ICC also implemented the curriculum, pathways, and equipment enhancements. ARC grant funds cover expenses associated with personnel, contractual services, outreach, professional development, wages for internships, and manufacturing-related equipment such as Robotic Welding Workcell and CNC Waterjet Cutter.

The Economic Development Commission established automotive suppliers and advanced materials as two target industries for recruitment and expansion, and regional expansion of the aerospace industry including the recent re-location of DAE Systems headquarters to Catawba County, bringing a total of 46 jobs to the region. Industry partners further identified in-demand third-party credentials to embed in the program and to develop work-based learning experiences and internship opportunities, which will position students for success in the job market. With assistance from the Southern Regional Educational Board, ICC designed an additional certificate program with an existing applied sciences program at post-secondary level that incorporated hands-on, project-based learning focused on aviation and automotive production.