WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Despite damages caused by extensive flooding April 29, training programs offered through the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) in West Plains are still a go for the 2017 fall semester, according to center officials.
“Although the flood waters definitely slowed our momentum, we at Missouri State UniversityWest Plains, as well as our partners at the South Central Career Center (SCCC) and the City of West Plains, are committed to having our workforce development programs at the GOCAT up, running, and even sprinting by the time the fall semester arrives in August,” said Dr. Dennis Lancaster, dean of academic affairs at Missouri State-West Plains. “The partnership’s ongoing focus is on preparing our residents for the workplace, working with our industry partners and meeting their customized training needs, and we’ll be doing just that come August.”
Floodwaters rose to 26 inches throughout the recently renovated GOCAT facility on Howell Avenue, resulting in extensive equipment and material damage, according to Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems Jim Hart, but salvage operations are underway. “Salvageable equipment is being restored to operational status to allow classes to begin on schedule for the fall semester,” he explained.
Other equipment that cannot be salvaged will be replaced, some immediately and some over time, given available funding resources, Lancaster said. “The primary aim is still to provide the highest, most advanced level of workforce training in the technologies and processes needed by our industry partners in the region,” he explained. “Although this has been a setback for us, we are pressing on because the need for these programs and courses were not swept away by the flood.”
Classes offered through GOCAT include those leading toward the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Technology. The AAS in Technology has four optional study areas – Advanced Manufacturing, Alternative Energy, General Technology and Technology Management. Certificates in these study areas also are available through GOCAT, as is customized training for specific industry needs.
Some of the courses scheduled this fall at GOCAT include Manufacturing Materials and Processes (TEC 111), Manufacturing Technology (TEC 165), Survey of Electronics (TEC 100) and Applied Electricity and Electronics (TEC 200), as well as hands-on laboratory work, Hart said.
“Although many of the technology degree courses are offered online, GOCAT is the place where students meet with their instructors in an advanced technology lab environment to receive focused, handson training in the use of the latest technology for alternative energy and advanced manufacturing,” Hart said. “Since many of the jobs of the future do not yet exist, the GOCAT is the place where the fundamental building blocks of technology will be discovered and explored by students so success can be realized when the future jobs arrive.”
Despite recent layoffs and plant closures in the area, state officials expect employment in the manufacturing sector in south-central Missouri to grow by 8.5 percent by 2022, with the total number of job openings coming from new growth increasing by 28.5 percent, according to Sheila Barton, project manager of Missouri State-West Plains’ Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Program, which provided partial funding for GOCAT.
“Occupations are divided into ‘now,’ ‘next’ and ‘later’ categories based on the typical training and education required,” Barton said. “‘Now’ occupations usually require one to 12 months of on-the-job training. ‘Next’ occupations usually require more than one year of on-the-job training and can additionally need specific work experience. These occupations often require an associate’s degree or vocational certificate. ‘Later’ occupations usually require a bachelor’s degree or higher and may need specific work experience. Providing our students with a pathway to the anticipated growth in business and industry will not only meet the current needs, but also the ‘next’ and ‘later’ needs of the future. Having a prepared workforce will attract new businesses and industries now.”
Some of the careers students who complete the degree and certificate programs can pursue include alternative energy entrepreneur, automated manufacturing technician, biofuels technician, electrician’s apprentice, field service technician, hydraulics and pneumatics technician, manufacturing technician, robotics technician, solar energy technician and wind energy technician, Hart said. University officials added the average salary of these types of positions statewide is $40,108, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) at the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
“If you have a love of life-long learning, the AAS in Technology is the degree to pursue,” Hart said. “Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, as is the knowledge base of this area of study and practice. To keep up with advances in technology, the technician must continually study and learn in order to solve current problems, as well as the problems of the future.”
Registration for these and other fall semester classes is going on now at Missouri State-West Plains. For more information about admission and enrollment procedures, visit www.wp.missouristate.edu or call the admissions office at 417-255-7955 or toll free at 1-888-466-7897.
Missouri State University-West Plains empowers students to achieve personal success and to enrich their local and global communities by providing accessible, affordable and quality educational opportunities. Missouri State-West Plains offers associate degrees and credit and non-credit courses, and serves as a delivery site for bachelor’s and master’s degrees offered by Missouri State University in Springfield. For more information about becoming a student, call 417-255-7955 or visit www.wp.missouristate.edu/admissions. For more information about ways to support the university, call 417-255-7240 or visit www.wp.missouristate.edu/development.
Despite flooding, GOCAT classes enrolling for Fall
With renovations soon underway on the new Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT), officials at Missouri State University-West Plains and the South Central Career Center (SCCC) are now gearing up to begin offering advanced manufacturing and technology courses at the center this fall.
GOCAT is a partnership between the University, SCCC and the City of West Plains to bring advanced technological training to area residents. Thanks to a $225,000 Delta Regional Authority grant and additional funding from the city, officials are converting the former city scales building on Howell Avenue into an advanced manufacturing training center where area residents can develop the skills and knowledge needed to fill the technologically-advanced manufacturing positions of the 21st century.
"Manufacturing techniques are evolving at a rapid pace today due to continuing advances in technology," said Dr. Dennis Lancaster, dean of academic affairs at Missouri State-West Plains. "University and SCCC officials have worked with area industries to design courses and educational programs that will provide students with the skills and knowledge set needed to fill positions in these businesses and industries."
To that end, Missouri State-West Plains and SCCC will pool their resources to offer the university's Associate of Applied Science in Technology degree with options in either Alternative Energy or Advanced Manufacturing. Certificate programs in these same two study areas also will be offered. In addition, customized training programs will be provided on an as-needed basis through the center to area businesses and industries.
"With each program, students will have broad exposure to alternative energy and manufacturing technology and be prepared to enter the workforce or establish a business in alternative energy and manufacturing," said Jim Hart, assistant professor of computer information systems at Missouri State-West Plains. "Local manufacturers who need specific job improvement skills could also send employees to a single course. Numerous industry partners have applauded the intentional flexibility of the program."
Despite recent layoffs and plant closures in the area, state officials expect employment in the manufacturing sector in south-central Missouri to grow by 8.5 percent by 2022, with the total number of job openings coming from new growth increasing by 28.5 percent, according to Sheila Barton, project manager of Missouri State-West Plains' Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Program.
"Occupations are divided into 'now,' 'next' and 'later' categories based on the typical training and education required," Barton said. "'Now' occupations usually require one to 12 months of on-the-job training. 'Next' occupations usually require more than one year of on-the-job training and can additionally need specific work experience. These occupations often require an associate's degree or vocational certificate. 'Later' occupations usually require a bachelor's degree or higher and may need specific work experience. Providing our students with a pathway to the anticipated growth in business and industry will not only meet the current needs, but also the 'next' and 'later' needs of the future. Having a prepared workforce will attract new businesses and industries now."
Some of the careers students who complete the degree and certificate programs can pursue include alternative energy entrepreneur, automated manufacturing technician, biofuels technician, electrician's apprentice, field service technician, hydraulics and pneumatics technician, manufacturing technician, robotics technician, solar energy technician and wind energy technician, Hart said. University officials added the average salary of these types of positions statewide is $40,108, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) at the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Barton said the programs were developed to serve as few as five students per course with no cap on potential enrollment. "A survey of those impacted by recently announced job losses in West Plains showed that 50 percent intend to enter education," she explained. "With an aggressive manufacturing recruitment and retention program underway in West Plains and a progressive consortium of industry and educational partnerships, GOCAT will have a positive regional impact on citizen employability in a historically impoverished area. Alternative energy development, job creation, existing manufacturer expansion, and industry recruitment are probable results of this program."
Area residents interested in enrolling in the programs through GOCAT will find several technology-based courses on Missouri State-West Plains' schedule this fall. They include Survey of Electronics (TEC 100), Manufacturing Materials and Processes (TEC 111), Introduction to Supply Chain Management (TEC 112), Manufacturing Technology (TEC 165), Welding Technology (TEC 175), Applied Electricity and Electronics (TEC 200) and a Technology Internship course (TEC 299). Other courses for these programs will be offered in future semesters.
The potential for expanding GOCAT programs is only limited by need, Hart said. "Based on the input of the technology advisory board and industry partners, along with the flexibility of the program, GOCAT will be able to produce classes through agile course development to meet requirements as the opportunities arise. As new alternative energy and manufacturing technology is developed and incorporated into industry, specialized courses can be developed in order to prepare the workforce for its arrival," he said.
"For example, the use of robotics in every facet of industry is accelerating due to the efficiency and effectiveness of its use; our workforce needs to be prepared to install, program and maintain that equipment as it continues to arrive," he added. "These programs are purposefully developed with a broad scope in order to produce a versatile workforce capable of adapting to industry needs; however, GOCAT also can provide a depth of technical knowledge for specialized applications as industry grows in the area."
Ribbon Cutting/Open House Held Friday for Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology
A large contingent of community leaders and representatives were on hand Friday for the official ribbon cutting of the new Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) in West Plains, which threw open its doors for public tours of the 16,000-square-foot facility.
Mayor Jack Pahlmann, one of the speakers during the event, told those in attendance how the building – which once housed livestock and was formerly known as the City Scales Building – has been repurposed "from swine to students." "It truly is a magnificent building," Pahlmann told the crowd. "It's amazing to see the transformation. GOCAT is just a wonderful asset for our community."
Located at 125 North Howell Avenue, GOCAT was created as a joint project between the City of West Plains, Missouri State University-West Plains, and the West Plains School District/South Central Career Center. Its purpose is to bring advanced technological training to area residents, who will have access to traditional education as well as key technological skills that are in demand by manufacturers.
Students of the Center will be able to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Technology degree with options in either Alternative Energy or Advanced Manufacturing. Certificate programs in those two study areas also will be offered, along with customized training programs to area businesses and industries.
All three partners share one common goal: To bring jobs to West Plains.
Missouri State University-West Plains Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Dennis Lancaster told those in attendance that creating a highly-trained workforce is a necessity in today's ever-evolving world. "Today's workforce is being challenged by the very same technologies and innovations that provide them with a career in the industry," he said. "Technological advances, like the now-expected advances in our computers and cellphones, pressure industry to do more, at a faster and more efficient rate – and at a higher level of quality."
Currently there are 20 students enrolled at the Center, which has already garnered a Top Five Award of Excellence in the category of Advanced Manufacturing by Expansion Solutions Magazine.
Dr. Lancaster credited the collaboration of the three major partners, along with the guidance of area industry leaders and the support of local legislators, for the launch of the GOCAT facility. He also credited the funding efforts of the Delta Regional Authority, which comes through the DRA's States' Economic Development Assistance Program to support job creation and community development projects.
Including grants and contributions to the estimated value of the facility, Dr. Lancaster pointed out that GOCAT is a $2.5 million investment for the community – which all three partners agree is a small price to pay for the possible impact to West Plains. "Our community, and our region, need this to work," said Dr. Lancaster. "In the coming months and years, you should see students of all ages getting a specific type of training needed by their employer. All of them will learn about new careers and skills, advancing their knowledge in the information age, and preparing for their future."
For more information about the program and services offered by GOCAT, please call the Missouri State University-West Plains office of admissions at 417-255-7955.
A team of 12 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members recently participated in community service from Jan – March 31 working with the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).
GOCAT is joint project between the City of West Plains, Missouri State University-West Plains, and the West Plains School District/South Central Career Center to bring advanced technological training to area residents. The refurbished 16,000-square-foot Center provides state-of-the-art training for not only traditional education, but also key technology skills that are in demand by manufacturers. All three partners share the common goal of keeping and creating jobs in the West Plains area.
The students from nine states and Sweden, worked on multiple projects including painting, cleaning, and installing drywall that supported the renovation of the GOCAT facility. There help to get this facility ready for use was invaluable and they all learned new skills as well.
“We can’t thank this team enough for what they have meant to the GOCAT and our efforts to get the facility up and running. We could never have met our deadline without them and we are eternally grateful”, said GOCAT Project Manager, Sheila Barton.
Prior to coming to West Plains, they served with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Durango, CO and their next project takes them to Kansas City to work with youth within the inner city. This team will graduate from the 10-month program on July 14, 2017.
Name: Chrisy Barnes Hometown: West Plains / Caulfield, Missouri Currently Resides: Pomona, Missouri Occupation: Manufacturing Engineer III Family information: Married for 15 years to my high school sweetheart, Matt Barnes (also an alumni of Missouri State University, received AAS in Telecommunications from Linn Tech). We have two children, Broc who is 11 and Brylee who is 8. Academic Degrees:
Bachelor of Arts in Science (BAS) in Technology Management, Missouri State University;
Associate of Arts General Studies (AA),
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Industrial Technology – Mechanical Drafting,
Chrisy Barnes, Pomona, never expected to reach her career goals, but Missouri State University-West Plains not only gave her the education she needed, but also the experiences and life skills to rise to the challenge.
Barnes, who is a Manufacturing Engineer III at Regal-Beloit in West Plains, said, "I am currently in a position—engineering lead—that I thought was unattainable. Careers take on some of the same characteristics as college. Apply yourself, be persistent, always be willing to learn new things, be willing to work with all you encounter and overcome challenges. As you become successful in each of these areas, you will grow as a person and as an employee. They will be rewarded."
She chose Missouri State-West Plains for three reasons: Cost, and with it the ability to use her A+ scholarship to help pay for her education; proximity to home, as she had decided to stay in the West Plains area after graduating high school; and an interest in drafting she had pursued since eighth grade. Later on, after earning her Associate of Applied Science degrees in Industrial Technology-Mechanical Drafting and General Technology, she utilized Missouri State Outreach to complete her bachelor's degree in Technology Management, a degree she has great pride in.
“It is a great mixture of technology, engineering, business and management,” Barnes said. "It reminds me of the phrase 'jack of all trades, master of none,' but this degree allows you to be a master of whatever you choose from all of these different fields but still be able to know some of the others."
"I had given up at one point in my education," Barnes said. "I knew what I wanted, but it seemed impossible to achieve with (what I thought at the time was) my lack of talents. After talking with my advisor, Cathy Proffitt-Boys, I was able to redirect my attention from the lack of talents to what talents I do have and how to apply them to a degree that suited me, not vice-versa. Missouri State-West Plains has the resources to help you become a successful student and have a successful career, but you have to be willing to use these resources—all of them."
To prospective students, Barnes suggests: "Win. Respect. Learn. All careers have obstacles. Your job is not only to overcome these challenges, but to do it with respect to all and to learn from every experience."
In an effort to bring advanced technical training to area residents, Missouri State University-West Plains, the South Central Career Center and the City of West Plains have joined forces to develop the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT). Through GOCAT, residents can complete degree and certificate programs in technology or participate in customized training opportunities.
The Center is intended to provide advanced, hands-on manufacturing training to individuals, from high school age through adulthood, who are looking to expand their skills in a technical field. Emphasis areas of training include manufacturing technology, alternative energy and technology management. These degrees are designed to match the skills needed by employers to fill high-wage, high-skill positions in a growth industries.
The degree programs are approved by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and, for the eligible student, are fully approved for federal and state financial aid programs.
Major manufacturers of our area, such as DRS Technologies, Armstrong Flooring and Caterpillar, helped develop the training programs to benefit manufacturers of all sizes.