Executive Director's Message

December 2019

NCATC Friends and Colleagues,

Finding the workforce with the right skills and knowledge is a challenge that businesses in America face every day. As technology progresses ever faster the workforce challenge will continue to grow with it. And, the human professionals in design, technician and engineering roles in organizations will see changes to their job duties, will be challenged to acquire new skills and flexibility, and learn new ways of collaborating with machines. 

Technicians also need to learn how to work with new design, engineering, and product development tools enabled by these new technologies. Organizations and professionals in technician, engineering and design roles can't ignore the changes if they want to remain competitive. The five biggest technology trends that are disrupting manufacturing, engineering and design today are:

Robotics deployed today can do much more than provide physical strength to tasks or move items around a warehouse—they can complement human work in a variety of ways, even with cognitive tasks. Engineering time and risk have been reduced thanks to software that can simulate robotic applications and maintenance. Robots can now "think out-of-the-box" rather than just be programmed to do repetitive tasks.

Additive Manufacturing - some still call 3D printing for three-dimensional printing - is transforming the way business is done as well as how things are designed and made. From 3D printed parts on commercial airplanes to those implanted in humans through innovative healthcare applications, additive manufacturing is incorporated in many areas of our lives today.

Artificial Intelligence | Machine Learning continue to be the fastest-growing emerging technologies, so you likely aren't surprised that it is also disrupting design and engineering now that Industry 4.0 is here.Technicians and engineers must be uber flexible and adapt to changes that artificial intelligence and machine learning is bringing to the way they work from robotics, natural language processing, automation and much, much more.

Generative Design uses artificial intelligence (AI) software and the computing power of the cloud to create design solutions that would never have been conceived by the human mind—or at least as quickly.

Digital Twins harnesses the power of being able to design and build something virtually to see how everything comes together before you expend real-world resources and then figure out a flaw in the design. A digital twin provides design, engineering and manufacturing teams real-time information about how whatever they are creating will perform under a variety of circumstances.

NCATC will continue to expand, explore, and exploit all of the important, emerging technology trends in advanced technology related and industry-driven workforce development needs for the 21st century together with all of our education, workforce and strategic industry partners and members. Both of our 2020 national events will be immersed in Industry 4.0 related workforce development trends - as in the past several years!


The NCATC Board of Directors and staff hope to see you at the 2020 NCATC Summer Workshop hosted by Gateway Technical College (GTC) in Racine, WI – June 10-13, 2020

And, don’t forget to save the date for the 2020 NCATC Fall Conference hosted by Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Omaha, NE – September 29 – October 02, 2020.

As always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected, via the regularly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.

J. Craig McAtee, NCATC CEO & Executive Director