How the National Science Foundation Grant Supports Workforce Readiness


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Excelsior College $864,000 in grant funding to ensure workforce readiness in the manufacturing industry.  Tina Vasquez, Marketing Manager at Excelsior College, caught up with associate dean in the School of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Michael Johnson, and asked what this grant means for the College, our students, and how will it help them in preparing for their future careers.

Vasquez: Excelsior College has received a large grant from the National Science Foundation. What is it and why has the College received it?

Johnson: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Excelsior College $864,000 in grant funding to ensure workforce readiness. Excelsior has partnered with Polk State College in Florida to prepare technicians for skilled positions in the energy and manufacturing industries. Excelsior and Polk State Colleges will develop simulations to teach and then assess key skills in power generation and advanced manufacturing to improve the pipeline of technicians into key economic sectors. When completed, these open education resources can be used by colleges throughout the nation.

Vasquez: This is an extremely large sum of money. How is Excelsior going to use the grant?

Johnson: The funding, which comes from the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program, will enable Excelsior College to develop simulations to teach and assess key workplace skills among associate degree technology students in power generation and advanced manufacturing. Simulations permit learners to develop skill mastery through repeated practice and learn how to deal with hazardous procedures before hands-on implementation.

Vasquez: The receipt of this grant will allow the College to provide continued support, so what does this mean for our students?

Johnson: The simulations will be incorporated into three associate-level degree courses within the Nuclear/Power Plant, Electronic/Instrumentation, and Electromechanical concentrations. Incorporating simulation into new and existing courses will close current gaps in teaching and assessing safety, blueprint reading, and the use of tools and equipment – hands-on skills until now taught only in a laboratory setting.

Vasquez: How will this help our students in developing readiness for a career? 

Johnson: Students earning a B or better in the degree program have the potential to earn the Center for Energy Workforce Development certificate, Energy Industry Fundamentals. This innovative use of simulation technology is expanding the possibilities for students preparing for new careers in fully online programs.