- A staff member attended a meeting at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on February 28 called by the Alcoa Foundation, who wanted to put SkillsUSA, Project Lead the Way, The Manufacturing Institute and Junior Achievement officials together to brainstorm on challenges in developing the manufacturing workforce and in combating negative public and educational perceptions of manufacturing. Later that day, staff engaged The Manufacturing Institute and PLTW officials in discussions on administration of and criteria for awarding digital manufacturing “badges.”
- And, looking ahead a little bit, the SkillsUSA WorldTeam has an appointment to visit the German Embassy during the team’s Washington, D.C. training program, April 26-29.
- Thanks to an introduction from Board President Russ Hoffbauer, staff and I met on June 7 with the president and senior vice president of Insurance Automotive Auctions (IAA), an automotive recycling business with 160 locations in 48 states. IAA is looking for talent in IT, management trainees and people with automotive experience. They saw a fit with the SkillsUSA mission, and they are interested in getting IAA involved at the state and local levels. They will both be attending conference.
- We reached out to sponsors to support CTE and the student organizations slated for cuts under California Governor Jerry Brown’s school finance reform proposal. I sent email to our sponsors on June 1 and June 6.
- On June 1, we had a very encouraging meeting with the CEO, executive vice president and chief engagement officer and the new student relations director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Rosanne White, Technology Student Association (TSA) executive director, joined us. PLTW is interested in working with both organizations again and has reopened discussion on the Engineering Alliance created by TSA and SkillsUSA previously. PLTW wants to increase the number of schools offering its curriculum by 800 next year, and they are very interested in teaching employability skills to students.
- On May 30-31, Arizona State Association Director Carrie Wolf and I went on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to start an Arizona Youth Development Foundation. Four companies have already pledged their support and agreed to serve.
- On May 25, the national staff directors held a retreat to discuss funding priorities with an eye toward achieving Vision 2020 goals. The meeting generated great discussion on SkillsUSA’s message, in addition to helping us take a more comprehensive look at our FY13 strategic plan and beyond. Congratulations go to the staff members who planned and lead the meeting, and thanks to ASE for inviting us to use their headquarters for the retreat.
- The National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) met on May 24. One of the primary topics for discussion with Robin Utz from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) was the administration’s blueprint for reform of Perkins. The NCC-CTSO is pleased to have an opportunity for early reaction to the blueprint, and the Council will be preparing its own white paper on the blueprint and Perkins reauthorization.
- Thanks to an introduction from board member Kathy Jo Mannes, I spoke on May 23 with representatives from Skills for America’s Future, an initiative by the administration tied in with The Aspen Institute. Their focus is to help find ways to build business and community college partnerships, and they’re looking to SkillsUSA to help.
- Finally, I was a special guest speaker for the Fredtech 2012 banquet in Fredericksburg, Va. on May 22. The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and 21 students – all of them Virginia state medalists – were honored.
- On January 4, I traveled to the offices of the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, D.C. to meet with Vince Bertram, the new executive director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and with the executive director and staff from the Technology Student Association (TSA). Vince is interested in revitalizing the Engineering Alliance (EA), the online joint venture between TSA and SkillsUSA for students in PLTW. He said he likes the concept for leadership and competitive events, and he wants us to prepare a proposal to seek a sustained commitment to EA.
- On January 5, I met with executives from Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating housing in poor communities. Every year, they hold what they call “Big Builds” and some involve well-known personalities and big events. (They’re even tied into the Super Bowl this year.) Americorps is also involved. Their proposal is that we initiate a pilot project pairing 10 of our best chapters with 10 of their best affiliates to work on community service projects together. We’ll be reaching out to select state directors to pair local chapters with the strong affiliates that Rebuilding Together identifies as the preferred pilot sites. This initiative certainly helps SkillsUSA meet the request in recent student polls to make available more local service opportunities. Representatives from Rebuilding Together will attend our national conference, have an exhibit booth and make a SkillsUSA University presentation.
- Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing more states as they exceed last year’s overall numbers. A reminder – professional membership and alumni membership counts. Individuals like industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join too online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- Washington appointments for SkillsUSA WorldTeam are coming right along. We now have a confirmed appointment and location for a briefing on the House side hosted by the CTE Caucus. Both Representatives and Senators will be invited to the briefing. It also appears we’re set to meet with staff from the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the afternoon. Invitations have also been extended to The White House and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We’re hopeful of team coverage in the AOL/Huffington Post in addition to continuing coverage in PARADE. The reporter working on the Huffington Post story said her editor saw the PARADE article and said: “Here’s the way to put a face on what we’re covering. Let’s do profiles of these students.”
- On September 7, SkillsUSA West Virginia Director Paul Lovett and I visited my alma mater Mercer County Technical Education Center. We spoke to 24 teachers and administrators, did some training and delivered some SkillsUSA materials. The result? Mercer County Tech is going to be a 100 percent school with 600 members.
- On September 16, I joined Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of Technology Student Association in Baltimore for a meeting with Dr. Vince Bertram, the new CEO of Project Lead the Way. It was our first opportunity to do an orientation on the two organizations for Dr. Bertram and to discuss a relaunch of the Engineering Alliance. Dr. Bertram was extremely interested, and we’ll follow up with a proposal.
- And, on September 22, I presented to the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship near Baltimore, Md. They wanted me to speak about SkillsUSA because they believe there are many areas in which we can be cooperating. I was accompanied by Caleb Houston our parliamentarian from Ohio. The opportunity was created in large part by our long-time friend Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, along with Steve Mandes of National Institute for Metalworking Skills and Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc.
Membership as of Friday was 269,044 and that’s exceeding the previous year same day total by 15,960. We have just about two weeks until the membership deadline, and we’re cautiously optimistic.
We added a new corporate partner. Blaklader-North America has come on board as an unrestricted sponsor for the SkillsUSA Championships.
The 2011 Lowe’s SkillsUSA Grants have been announced. Schools and colleges received Community Service Grants in 12 states and Campus Improvement Grants in 16 states. The list can be found at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/lowesgrants.shtml#Lowes 2011.
Two representatives from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) came to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center to visit recently. Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of TSA (Technology Student Association) joined us. The discussion was around a new online portfolio program developed by PLTW to encourage student innovation for pre-engineering students. It’s supported by a grant from the Kern Family Foundation and is tied in with the Small Business Administration. They also pledged continued financial support for Engineering Alliance Web updates this year.
We’re working on the strategy for the April Youth Development Foundation Committee meeting visits in Washington, D.C. We know the committee will have great things to say about career and technical education and SkillsUSA.
- Of course, the big news was the SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year dinner, but I covered that in a fairly comprehensive report previously. SkillsUSA continues to receive rave reviews and congratulations from those who attended.
- As I reported in a previous e-mail, I spoke during the North American STEM Education Symposium and attended the Graphics EXPO in early October. I’ve also recently met with Robert Hivish of Xerox, who talked about digital components in our graphics competitions. As a result of the STEM Symposium, Staffspoke recently to the Hartford County, Md. public schools where they’re interested in using our Work Force Ready System standards and assessments for the school system. They also invited representatives from nearby Pennsylvania schools. Another STEM development—Rosanne White, executive director of TSA and I were invited to the first annual Project Lead The Way STEM Conference in Washington, D.C. Approximately 900 attended. We served on two separate panels, to discuss the power of competitions in inspiring students STEM success. It was also a great opportunity to discuss the Engineering Alliance. While at the conference, Rosanne and I met with John Lock, president of Project Lead the Way, regarding the Engineering Alliance and reinforcing STEM skills. And on November 1, YDF member Mike Ogilvy and Brenda Quinn of intelitek visited to talk about the Center for Energy Workforce Development assessment project. SkillsUSA is just connected everywhere!
- Staff recently attended a meeting at the Department of Labor to discuss the YouthBuild grant. Plans for funding the grant are underway as are strategies and site selection. It looks as though the initiative could be in place starting next summer.
- Finally, thanks again to YDF member Dave Camden of Toyota, SkillsUSA now owns a brand new, beautiful and fully-loaded 2011 Toyota Sienna van.
- On September 7, three representatives of organized labor met with us here at the national center. The thrust of the meeting was to explore ways the AFL-CIO and SkillsUSA could be working together more closely, particularly, in image building for the skilled trades and recruitment of our students into apprenticeships. As they said: “These are the people we want to hire.” Leading the meeting was Robert J. Pleasure, special assistant to the president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. He was joined by Eric L. Packard, training specialist with the UA (United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters) and our old friend, Rick Sullivan, from the Ironworkers. The meeting began with a presentation by two of our national student officers, Robin Cronbaugh, Region V vice president, and Sam Soto, college/postsecondary president.
- The National Coordinating Council for the Career and Technical Student Organizations met in Reston, Va. on September 15. Included with the regular business meeting was a special presentation on social networking called “socialnomics.” We know that as student organizations, we have a lot to consider with social networking as a way to reach students, but also to protect our brand. It was a great presentation by ACTE (Association for Career and Technical Education) and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). Other SkillsUSA staff attended the session as well.
- We’re working on our Vision 2020 goal of reaching one million people per year. I spoke recently with Richard Grimsley of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Rosanne White of the Technology Student Organization about marketing for Engineering Alliance (EA). PLTW has a goal of reaching into 15,000 middle and high schools by 2015. If EA takes off, SkillsUSA will be connected to those schools too.
- On September 10, YDF member Bill Maddox of N.E.W. took a group of our staff members to a Washington Nationals baseball game, and we got to watch from the N.E.W. suite at the ballpark. Bill is looking to secure the box for next season to offer it as a SkillsUSA membership mega prize.
- The SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year dinner is shaping up nicely and the pledges are coming in. The award is going to be special too. The design is based on the SkillsUSA Championships gold medallion. I’m looking forward to the presentation.
- SkillsUSA WorldTeam is coming together as well. Our goal is to compete in 20 contests, so that means 22 students will fill out the team for 2011. We have 16 selected thus far. News releases should be going out by early October.
- Staff reports alumni membership has now reached 17,000 and four states – New York, Texas, Maine and Ohio – have held meetings to establish state alumni associations.
- Staff reports that the Work Force Ready System Web site had been updated and made more customer-friendly. He says several states have inquired about state purchases of assessments for both pre- and post-testing and that we’re now offering more extensive state reporting.
- And, we just finished the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), and it was a huge success. We had about 240 people registered including 151 student leaders, 73 instructors and 12 SkillsUSA state association directors. Board President Russ Hoffbauer joined the national officers and me on visits in Washington. I’ll be reporting more extensively about WLTI next time.
- The final membership report will be coming out today, and it looks like it will be above 304,000 and alumni membership is over 9,000. This is a remarkable year.
- Staff reports that orders and preview requests for the Skill Connect Assessments have been pouring in steadily this month and last. They say that previews result in orders. There’s interest in all of the assessments currently available. According to staff, orders are from across the country with some concentration on the eastern seaboard and the central states, but no particular pattern except “everywhere.” Staff also visited North Dakota recently to present to high school and college administrators. The college administrators were doubtful at first, but became very enthusiastic as the day progressed. The high school administrators were enthusiastic all along.
- Online news clippings from September through March have gone to all of the state associations for their use. Staff reports that most of the recent stories are about local and state conferences and competitions – of course – but there are also a lot of nice features including reports on State Farm grant projects such as an energy-independent portable classroom including photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal heating in Maryland.
- And, Engineering Alliance continues to pick up momentum. We’ve been getting questions on how to sign up entire school districts. That’s a nice challenge to have. Staff will be part of the Project Lead The Way train-the-trainer conference later this month.
Advance notice went to the state association directors on February 25 that the Web site for Engineering Alliance was live. To see the site, go to www.engineeringalliance.org. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) sent announcement e-mail from John Lock, CEO, on March 4 to PLTW school administrators and instructors.
SkillsUSA sent out the news release announcing the Engineering Alliance to 477 editors and reporters in the education press and a list of education and engineering trade publications created specifically for the Engineering Alliance. The release also was sent out on PR Web through our SkillsUSA service, and we know that in over 24 hours, there were nearly 64,500 headline impressions and 790 full-page reads on the World Wide Web. Here’s the link to the release: http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/pressreleases/engalliance.pdf.
Today, March 1, SkillsUSA is announcing the Engineering Alliance in conjunction with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the Technology Student Association (TSA). Engineering Alliance has been created at the request of PLTW, its instructors and state departments of education. Engineering Alliance draws upon the expertise of TSA and SkillsUSA in leadership instruction and competitions to benefit PLTW instruction.
Simply stated, PLTW saw the value of our employability skills instruction and competitive events and wanted to add them into the PLTW curriculum for pre-engineering students and teachers.
Engineering Alliance (EA) does not include membership in TSA or SkillsUSA but it doesn’t preclude it either. PLTW programs are encouraged to join either organization as members if they wish to take the competition and leadership experience beyond the local level. Engineering Alliance is an affiliation; it’s not a membership program. It’s similar to a classroom subscription. PLTW programs can sign up for online services including leadership activities and competitions designed specifically for their instructional programs. These services are delivered directly from the national level to the classrooms. Competitions are to be conducted at the classroom level only. They do not have district or state-level components.
The news release announcing Engineering Alliance has been sent to the education news media today and is posted at www.skillsusa.org/about/news.shtml. The link to the Engineering Alliance Web site is live. Go to www.EngineeringAlliance.org.
Thank you in advance for your support of Engineering Alliance. SkillsUSA hopes that this is one more step in its mission of lifting up students, teachers and CTE.