Educators Session

FMA Combines Forces with the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC)

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Keynote Speakers, Concurrent Sessions Announced for Educators & Industry Conference

Rockford, Ill., Aug. 31, 2016 – Five dynamic keynote presentations have been announced for New Partnerships for Workforce Advancement, to be held Oct. 11-14 at Harper College in Palatine, Ill. FMA is co-producing this multi-day conference with the National Coalition of Advanced Technical Centers (NCATC) in an effort to promote collaboration between manufacturing educators and industry partners. The event provides a venue for leaders from learning institutions, manufacturing employers, and technical education suppliers to share strategies and solutions for closing the skills gap crisis facing the manufacturing industry.  The keynotes are:

  • Kenneth Ender, president of Harper College. Harper utilizes a myriad of programs and partnerships in its quest to provide quality, affordable and accessible education. Its new 6,000 square foot FMA Metal Fabrication Lab, funded in part by a grant from the FMA, doubled the size of Harper’s previous manufacturing lab. Dr. Ender is especially proud of The Promise Scholarship Program, where local public high school students can earn up to two years free Harper College tuition by meeting program benchmarks for grades, community service, etc.
  • Jeremy Bout, producer and host of Edge Factor. As a critically acclaimed filmmaker, producer, public speaker and entrepreneur, Jeremy leads the Edge Factor team in turning bold ideas into reality. This presentation is where Hollywood visuals meet CTE, manufacturing and STEAM stories to challenge perceptions and spotlight the amazing careers and people who are impacting lives and pushing back the edge of what’s possible.
  • Jim Nelson, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. He is responsible for the IMA Education Foundation and the association’s education policy initiatives. The foundation encourages member companies to provide internships at their manufacturing facilities for students and opportunities for educators to observe and discuss the needs of manufacturers in their area.
  • Jon DeWys and Laura Elsner. Jon is CEO of Dewys Manufacturing, a lean manufacturer offering a full spectrum of metal fabricating services, and Laura is the dean of DeWys University, their home-grown program for training and accelerated onboarding.
  • Mike Mastroianni, president of Rock Valley College. Mr. Mastroianni will share successes in developing and growing community collaborations. Recent achievements include partnerships with OSF HealthCare and with Northern Illinois University, which will allow nursing and engineering students to complete all four years of their Bachelor degrees at the RVC campus.

A sampling of the concurrent session topics include “Tools of Sustainable Education Industry Partnerships”, “Using Industry Credentials as a Tool for Prior Learning Assessment and Articulation”, “On the Road Again…Making ElectroMechanical and Automation Training Mobile”, “Impact of Certifications on Property and Casualty Insurance Costs”, and “We Build our Future”.

Presenter Roger Wilson of CNA Financial said, “This is a valuable time to bring together educators and employers to hear of the various activities underway to address the aging workforce and the manufacturing skills gap issue it creates. New ideas and creative solutions will generate from the interaction between attendees.”

FMA Metal Fabrication Lab

A tour of conference host Harper College will feature the use of hands-on, advanced technology labs for subjects such as mechatronics, nursing, graphic arts, and HVAC, along with welding and manufacturing programs at the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab. A choice of industry tours will allow attendees to get an inside view of manufacturing, research, and testing facilities. Industry tours include the following:

  • In business for over 125 years, C. Cretors & Co. is widely credited as being the catalyst for the creation of the modern concession industry with the original popcorn machine patent. Today, they are the leading designers and manufacturer of Concession, Foodservice and Food Processing equipment, which are manufactured exclusively in the United States.
  • Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) is a federally-funded research and development organization of UI LABS. The 94,000-square-foot space offers opportunities for public-private collaboration, advancements in digital manufacturing, education and workforce development.
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has made its logo synonymous with the safety certification of nearly every modern piece of technology. Its nearly 11,000 professionals provide safe solutions to an increasingly complex global supply chain.

Additionally, special networking events will offer further opportunities for participants to build alliances between education and industry. The conference kicks off on Tuesday afternoon with a special exhibit preview and networking reception at Harper College. On Thursday evening, there will be a social at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, with music provided by the Harper Jazz Ensemble.

Visit for program, registration, sponsorship, and exhibit information or call FMA Customer Service at (888) 394-4362 to learn more.

About FMA

The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) is a professional organization with more than 2,500 members working together to improve the metal processing, forming, and fabricating industry. Founded in 1970, FMA brings metal fabricators and equipment manufacturers together through technology councils, educational programs, networking events, and the FABTECH® trade show. The official publications of FMA include The FABRICATOR®, The Tube & Pipe Journal®, STAMPING Journal®, Practical Welding Today®, The Fabricator® en Español, Canadian Metalworking, and Canadian Fabricating & Welding.


Established in 1988, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) is a network of higher education resources that promotes the use of technology in economic and workforce development. With over 160 member institutions ranging from colleges and universities to the corporate community, NCATC provides technical assistance through its Membership Assistance Program, grant evaluation, publications, and access to best practices from the nation’s top ATCs.


Contact: Ann Schneider (815) 227-8220

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