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FLEXO Magazine : February 2008
58 FLEXO FEBRUARY 2008 www.flexography.org HARD TO COMPUTE Technical education as we know it evolved from Prosser and the works of others in the early 1920s. Prosser retired from Dunwoody in 1945 and, like every- thing else, change continued. We can not stop looking ahead. The pace of technol- ogy turnover has accelerated. Alessandro Volta, André-Marie Ampère and Michael Faraday conducted experiments in the late 18th century, but it took another 80 years, until 1880, when electricity was generated and distributed. And, it took still another 80 years until the Electronic Numeric Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was un- veiled in 1946. It took another 30 years for us to see the Altair 8800, Apple II, Tandy TRS-80, and Commodore computers. Today, computing power has reached the teraflop, jargon for 1 trillion floating point operations (computations) per sec- ond. Now, the medical device manufactur- ing industry talks about growing parts, not machining or producing components. One car manufactured today contains more computing power than that which existed in ENIAC, more than existed in the entire world in 1946, for that matter, and more than was used in an Apollo space- craft. In 1965, a mechanic needed to un- derstand 5,000 pages of service manuals to fix any automobile on the road. Today, a mechanic needs to decipher nearly half a million pages of technical text. The changes we face today, economical, technological and societal, along with the ongoing debate regarding higher educa- tion policy are similar to the change driv- ers at the beginning of the twentieth cen- tury. The rate of change is much greater, the scope of the debate much broader and need for response more urgent. As we face this future we need bold thinking to direct the future of technical education. HELP WANTED At the start of the 21st century, we are again faced with challenges and the educa- tion community needs to respond to these challenges. We need to revitalize and re- commit to our high schools. In 2004, there was a decrease in career and technical enrollments while general and academic credits have risen. As advocates for techni- cal education, we need to find ways to sup- port the high schools. This includes sharing resources, providing training on state of the art equipment, and building progres- sive courses that allow high school student to complete technical college courses. Technical education needs industry leaders such as Ron and Katherine Harper, founders of Harper Corporation of America. Their donations to various high schools, colleges and universities have helped develop the next generation of printers. They also support the Phoenix Challenge International High School Flexo Skills competition, which encourages students to learn and excel at flexographic printing. Haas, the largest CNC machine tool build- er in the world, helps establish Haas Training Centers in technical colleges throughout the U.S. by entrusting expensive machine tools and this is helping to ensure we are able to train the machinist of tomorrow. These two industry leaders demonstrate what is needed in order for education and the business world to collaborate for the common good. In this great nation, we have an abundance of opportunity. Faculty and administrators need to be "loud" ad- vocates for technical education, for it is they who understand the value of techni- cal education. Many of us have benefited from technical education and need to tell our stories wherever and whenever possi- ble. Education is the future of every indus- try, and like our colleagues at the turn of the 20th century, we have the opportunity to shape the future. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Richard Wagner's passion for technical education is rooted in his educational experience. Frustrated with his experience at a four-year college, he joined the Navy and through the Navy's edu- cational model of applied learning, he achieved academic success and confidence, earning a Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree and Ph.D. Wagner currently serves as the vice presi- dent of academic affairs at Dunwoody College of Technology. In this role he provides managerial support and strategic leadership for Dunwoody's academic programs, student support services, and the college's quality pro- gram, including the College's participation in the Academic Quality Improvement Program. This article is based on his presentation at the American Technical Education Association's Region 5 Conference in Oct. 2007. In 2007, Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association (FFTA) intro- duced its latest training initiative, TEST (Technical Education Services Team). TEST is a joint effort between FFTA and complying educational institutions to expand technical skills required by a continually advancing flexographic pro- cess to bring state-of-the-art profession- al development solutions to the industry. Dunwoody College of Technology has been an FFTA educational partner since 1999 and continues to provide top-shelf flexographic training as a member of the TEST team. Dunwoody Welding Lab, 1918 Dunwoody Electrical Lab, 1918 Dunwoody Electrical Lab, 1933 FTA TODAY