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Skilled to Work: Alabama expands FAME program to three additional community colleges

The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) vice chancellor said the expansion is driven by an industry need in north Alabama.

Posted: Feb. 28, 2019 1:30 PM
Updated: Mar. 1, 2019 12:20 PM

A company founded on the idea of transforming service vehicles like utility trucks and ambulances will soon be transforming part of its workforce.

The Cullman-based company ZeroRPM designs and builds Idle Mitigation Systems that allow vehicles to use functions like sirens, air conditioners and bucket lifts without burning gasoline. CEO and founder Lance Self started the venture in a garage before Wallace State Community College allowed him to perfect the technology in their then-new incubator space.

FAME AMT programs in Alabama:

Calhoun Community College

  • Enrollment:
    • 2014 - 12 students
    • 2015 - 14 students
    • 2016 - 9 students
    • 2017 - 16 students
    • 2018 - 20 students
    • 2019 - at least 20 students
  • Participating businesses (12):
    • Asahi Kasei
    • Brown Precision Inc.
    • Bruderer
    • EFI Automotive
    • GE Appliances
    • Georgia-Pacific
    • Packaging Corporation of America
    • Polaris
    • Shape Corp.
    • Snap-on
    • Sonoco
    • Toyota

Gadsden State Community College**

  • Enrollment:
    • 20 student slots available for Fall 2019
    • Number of AMT students per company will vary from 1 for smaller companies to 5 for larger ones, like Honda
  • Participating businesses (8):
    • Bridgewater Interiors
    • Fleetwood Metal
    • Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
    • General Dynamics OTS
    • Koller Craft
    • Kronospan
    • Resolute Forest Products
    • Tape Craft

Northwest Shoals Community College**

  • Enrollment:
    • 15-20 student slots available for Fall 2019
    • Companies will commit to sponsoring 1-2 AMT students
  • Participating businesses (at least 6):
    • NSCC spokesman Trent Randolph told WAAY 31 six companies offered letters of commitment and they "are in the process of completing memos of understanding with eight local companies."
    • An official announcment of the companies will be made sometime in March.

Wallace State Community College**

  • Enrollment:
    • 15 student slots available for Fall 2019
    • Companies will take on as few as one AMT student to as many as seven.
  • Participating businesses (8):
    • Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies, LLC
    • Altec
    • C&A Authomation
    • KamTek, Inc.
    • Louis Allis
    • Reliance Worldwide Corporation
    • Remington
    • ZeroRPM

 

** Programs in active development

“The State of Alabama invested in us with a grant, Wallace State invested in us with that space, which gave us the ability to kind of perfect the technology and go out and start raising capital and launch the company,” said Self.

Five years later, Self is looking to give back to the school that helped him so much and happily jumped on board when school leaders sadi they wanted to introduce the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program from FAME, the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, to Wallace State.

“The younger we can get them and bring them into the company and start teaching them our ways and help them kind of integrate into workforce. That’s good for them and it’s also very good for us,” said Self.

Jimmy Hodges, the dean of technologies at Wallace State, said that ZeroRPM is just one of several businesses that will partner with Wallace State in the fall. He told WAAY 31 News that companies will take on anywhere between one and seven student advanced manufacturing technicians or AMTs.

“The cool thing about the FAME program is it’s a two-year interview,” said Hodges. “They’re not guaranteed a job when they finish the AMT, however, the placement rate nationwide for graduates is around like 92 percent.”

And it’s not just Wallace State that’s getting its own AMT program. Both Northwest Shoals Community College and Gadsden State Community College are joining in the national program as well.

According to FAME, there are 256 employers are involved with 24 current programs across 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Five AMT programs in Alabama, Ohio and Texas are all in active development.

Jeff Lynn is the Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development for the Alabama Community College System (ACCS). He said because of industry demand, the state is looking at eventually expanding FAME’s AMT programs across the Alabama.

“We need about 10 FAME programs across the State of Alabama to keep up with the demand. And those FAME programs should have about 80 people in them, 80 students, so about four cohorts of 20,” said Lynn.

He told WAAY 31 News that he and others have seen great success from the program at Calhoun Community College and are looking forward to the expansions in north Alabama starting in the fall.

And others across the country are starting to take notice of FAME’s success. On Wednesday, a group from the Daytona area came to Decatur to explore bringing the first FAME AMT program to the Sunshine State.

“So I think our next step is to understand what the schools provide and look at some of the business partners and whether they would be interested. We have a little ways to go, but we have strong interest from a couple people here,” said Rebecca Crews, Vice President Strategic Engagement for Boston Whaler.

Crews said she was especially impressed by the passion exhibited by the students with whom she spoke at the AMT Live! Event.

Back at Wallace State, future FAME instructor Keith Tolbert said the unique learning opportunity for these students will be beneficial both for them as well as the companies they work for.

“Getting to apply it on the job as you’re learning it in the classroom, working hand-in-hand beside each other, school makes work easy, work will make school easy,” said Tolbert.

Currently the three new community colleges in north Alabama to enter the FAME program are accepting applications for the fall semester.

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