Creating Pathways to Stackable Credentials in Robotics by Manufacturing a Community College and University Partnership – Year Two Progress

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



College of Computing; Department of Computer Science


In rural locales like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, students and employers alike can struggle in their search to find STEM-based educational opportunities or qualified graduates to fill open positions. Due to the diverse needs of the small employers found in such an area, Bay de Noc Community College quickly realized that creating a different degree for each industry need would be an unsustainable and unreasonable approach. Instead, a partnership was formed with Michigan Technological University to create highly customizable and stackable credentials in the fields of mechatronics, robotic systems, and electrical engineering technology. By codeveloping this curriculum and partnering on a number of grant applications to procure equipment, these two institutions have created replicable student pathways that not only meet local employer demand, but also give students numerous options for the type and timing of their educational progression. Last year, representatives from the community college presented on this partnership at the annual ASEE conference in New Orleans to introduce their work to others in the hope that similar partnerships would result elsewhere in the country. With a full year of progress having now been made on this partnership, and with several students having already completed the certificate portion of the credential ladder, more information is now available in regards to strategies that appear to be working, others that do not, and some initial data analysis that has been conducted. Furthermore, non-credit workshops have since been developed and offered to other faculty of higher education, K-12 students, and K-12 teachers. A new robotic simulation software has also been developed to aid in instruction, which will be demonstrated to conference session attendees. Lastly, a fully-functioning mechatronics and robotic systems lab at the community college has been created, largely through the purchase of grant-funded equipment. These initial lessons learned and the progress made into year two of the grant represents important information to share with other colleges and universities who might also benefit from forming such a partnership in their area.

Publication Title

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition