Excelsior College, Polk State College Secure National Science Foundation Grant to Develop Educational Simulations for Workforce Readiness

Educational simulations have the capacity to prepare students, regardless of their proximity to campus, for careers in skilled industry

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Excelsior College over $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 and industry throughout the nation.

“Educational simulations have the capacity to prepare students, regardless of their proximity to campus, for careers in skilled industry,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, associate dean of technology in the School of Business and Technology at Excelsior, and the visionary behind the project. “For the first time, students in online programs will have the opportunity to earn industry certification. That’s what excites us the most – and what should excite our students.”

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, Johnson says, permit learners to develop skill mastery through repeated practice and learn how to deal with hazardous procedures before hands-on implementation.

At Excelsior, 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. Existing courses in math and electrical theory complete the certificate requirements. This innovative use of simulation technology is expanding the possibilities for students…

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