(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College and The Manufacturing Institute are partnering to pilot a remote virtual reality workforce training initiative aimed at helping transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses prepare for and excel in careers in modern manufacturing. The first cohort is scheduled to start on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

The institute’s Heroes MAKE America program has partnered with TRANSFR VR, a work based learning platform, and TSTC to provide remote training via a synchronized cohort model using  virtual reality to replace hands-on learning in an eight-week Certified Production Technician course. By accessing classes virtually, participants can complete lessons regardless of where they are located.

“We can do more together than apart in this new, innovative approach,” said Kori Bowen, TSTC’s senior executive director of Workforce Training.

TSTC’s role is to provide the certified instructor and the learning management system for the students to access. TSTC staff are also taking the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council’s existing content for the production technician course and adapting it to an online and virtual environment, alongside TRANSFR VR.

“Heroes MAKE America is a Department of Defense approved SkillBridge program which means we become the “place of duty” for transitioning  service members  in the training.” said Babs Chase, The Manufacturing Institute’s vice president for military and veterans’ programs.

In addition to daily check-ins with the instructor and the Heroes program manager, participants will have direct engagements with manufacturers looking to hire them. 

The first cohort will include service members who are in their last 180 days in the military and their spouses. Chase said that up to 15 people can take part in the first virtual training.

Participants will receive virtual reality simulation equipment provided by TRANSFR VR for lessons. They will be able to solve problems in a virtual environment similar to what they would see on a production floor. Upon completion, participants will be prepared to test for the Certified Production Technician industry certification and Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour certification. The students will also receive career-readiness training and placement support.

The pilot program will continue with four cohorts in 2022. 

This pilot program is a separate initiative from the current partnership that TSTC has with Heroes MAKE America, a12-week, in-person mechatronics program at the Waco campus. The second cohort began classes Aug. 30. Upon completion, military personnel will have earned up to seven certificates from the Smart Automation Certification Alliance.

“We are always looking for great partners,” Chase said. “What is also a plus is the innovation with which TSTC approaches education. We saw a school that was going to think outside the box. The Manufacturing industry has well over 850,000 open jobs right now, and this partnership is an opportunity to train and inspire the greater military community to look at these careers.”

For more information, go to https://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/veterans/heroes-make-america/.

For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu. 

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