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High score: Lawrence Tech ranks in the top 50 for game design programs for third straight year

Video game fans take note: Lawrence Technological University's game design program has now ranked in the Top 50 of undergraduate schools for game design for the third straight year. The Princeton Review, in a reporting partnership with the PC Gamer magazine, publishes the rankings.

LTU comes in at number 34 among schools to study game design in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

According to officials from the Southfield-based private university, LTU's program is different than most because of its focus on both art and design. Lawrence Tech offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Game Software Development concentration.

"It is an honor being ranked among the best undergraduate programs in the world," Marshall "Mars" Ashton, assistant professor in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design and director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art program at the university, said in a statement. "Despite how young both the Game Art and Game Software Development programs are, we have seen an incredible amount of progress as we contribute to the field at large and the development of the Michigan game development community."

The Princeton Review created a 40-question survey to determine the rankings of 150 programs based on academic offerings, lab facilities, and more. Also taken into account are alumni achievements, like graduates' starting salaries and career achievements. They then generated and analyzed over 40 data points in academics, faculty, technology, and careers to create the rankings.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Automation Alley's Technology in Industry Report reveals strengths and gaps in industry 4.0

Automation Alley, Michigan’s leading technology and manufacturing business association, unveiled the findings of its research report on Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution), today at its Technology in Industry Reveal event at the Detroit Institute of Arts. More than 300 guests were in attendance to hear the key findings of the first collaborative Industry 4.0 report of its kind in Michigan.  
 
The report, Harness the Power of Industry 4.0, is comprised of emerging trends, challenges, opportunities and implications for industry, and is designed to help manufacturers, educators and policy makers keep pace with rapid technological changes in Michigan and beyond. Research is centered on the eight core technologies of Industry 4.0: the Industrial Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, Big Data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, advanced materials and additive manufacturing, and modeling, simulation, visualization and immersion. 
 
Key findings of Automation Alley’s 2018 Technology in Industry report, Harness the Power of Industry 4.0 include:
  • While data and information are valuable (and we have more than ever before), companies will be able to differentiate themselves by the people, tools and execution put toward utilizing that data. The promise of Big Data is not in analyzing past trends to predict potential future trends, but in analysis of what is happening now to determine today’s next steps: real-time intelligence.
     
  • Industry 4.0 is bringing tremendous change in ways that can’t yet be fully comprehended, but the companies who can adopt a new mindset and new skillsets within their organizations are likely to find the greatest success. While some jobs will be eliminated by Industry 4.0, it’s more important to note that new and different types of work will emerge. For companies, re-skilling and upskilling strategies will be critical if they are to find the talent they need to deliver the work of the future. In order to navigate the chaos and identify and capitalize on the disruptive opportunities associated with Industry 4.0, we must create a culture of dynamic thinkers across all levels of society.
     
  • Domestic and foreign adoption of Industry 4.0 will not be identical or on the same timeline. Companies with multinational operations should not attempt a one-size-fits-all approach. Between 2015 and 2018, approximately 1.3 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world. That growth will be led by China and Europe, with North America a distant third.Manufacturing execution systems are critical for a transformation to Industry 4.0. Industries in Germany and Japan have been very successful in implementing these systems; however, American industries are behind. While large OEMs and major Tier 1 suppliers may accept the digital transformation, many Tier 2, Tier 3 and small manufacturing entities are struggling with the technological changes of Industry 4.0.
     
  • Automation will reshape the workforce and the smart factory floor but the people factor will remain the greatest asset -and greatest hindrance- to success. In addition to technical knowhow, 21st Century skills need to leverage the disruption of Industry 4.0 and innovate in new ways. The report outlines three types of skill sets future workers must embrace.
  • Discerning Skills, meaning conceptual and futuristic thinking
  • People Skills, including teamwork and understanding others
  • Purposeful Skills, which involve self-starting and continuous learning
 
“Last year was the first time we tackled the topic of Industry 4.0 in our Technology Report, surveying national and regional technology and manufacturing leaders to gauge whether they were ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s executive director and CEO. “What we found from that initial survey in 2017 was that most executives either lacked awareness of Industry 4.0 altogether or were experiencing barriers to adoption. That was truly the impetus towards our own Industry 4.0 evolution and the reason the 2018 report is so robust.”  
 
For the first time in the 11-year history of Automation Alley’s annual Technology in Industry Report, this year’s research was compiled and analyzed by a collaborative team of academic and corporate partners who embrace the dynamics of Industry 4.0: University of Detroit Mercy, with Dr. David Pistrui serving as overall academic lead researcher; Central Michigan University; Baker College; Oakland University; Lawrence Technological University; Oakland Community College; Macomb Community College; Ford Motor Company; Comau; Eaton; Fanuc; Siemens PLM; TTI Success Insights; Plante Moran; RSM and The Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN).  
 
“It’s fitting that academia, industry and the nonprofit sector collaborated on this report, because an important take-away from the findings is that Industry 4.0 readiness will require academic institutions to collaborate with industry and policy makers to realign and reform education around the needs of the marketplace,” Kelly said. “We appreciate the combined research efforts of our academic partners and corporate leaders in creating a report we believe offers critical considerations for next steps in Industry 4.0 implementation.” 
 
To purchase the report, visit automationalley.com/techreport.
 
About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association and Michigan's Industry 4.0 knowledge center, with a global outlook and a regional focus. We connect industry, academia and government to fuel Michigan's economy and accelerate innovation. We offer programs and services in business growth, entrepreneurship, talent development, defense and international business, providing resources and knowledge to help our members grow and prosper in the digital age.
 
Our Mission
The mission of Automation Alley is to position Michigan as a global leader in Industry 4.0 by helping our members increase revenue, reduce costs and think strategically during a time of rapid technological change.

Belgian auto supplier to build headquarters in Metro Detroit, adding 87 jobs

Excerpt: 

A global technology and service provider for commercial vehicles is building its North American headquarters in Auburn Hills. 

Belgium-based WABCO Holdings, Inc. is building a 102,000-square-foot facility with plans to add 87 new jobs in the next three years, the company announced. The facility would house about 200 employees in total.

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By supporting FIRST, Bosch helps build the mobility workforce


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

The way Charlie Ackerman sees it, government, industry, and educators must work together toward a common goal to build a supply line of talent. As senior vice president of human resources, North America, at Robert Bosch L.L.C., Ackerman has witnessed the power of supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives in preparing young people to succeed in the technical workforce.

For the majority of his 23 years with Bosch, Ackerman has been a staunch supporter of FIRST, the international team robotics club for students. When Detroit was deep in the Great Recession, Ackerman recognized the significant impact FIRST could have as the the region recovered economically.

With more than 400 teams, Michigan is the largest FIRST state in the country, and Detroit will host the FIRST Championship at Cobo Center April 25-28.

“The FIRST concept is all about balancing the attention of our society around education and the development of people,” says Ackerman. He questions how society can replicate the energy dedicated to college and professional sports toward education, given the percentage of student athletes who succeed in pro sports versus those who aspire to STEM careers.

“Every associate that participates in FIRST gets a job. There is no loss,” he says.

Skills learned through FIRST, and other STEM education initiatives like SAE’s K-grade 8 AWIM, including collaboration, project management, leadership, business planning, fundraising, and account management are valuable to Bosch. That’s why they have 72 formal mentors representing Bosch in 21 FIRST teams in the U.S., impacting 1,000 students each year in communities where Bosch has a presence, including Charleston, Charlotte, Palo Alto, and cities in Illinois and Michigan.

“We literally put our leaders inside these teams and they build the talent and develop relationships,” says Ackerman. “We involve them in internship programs, we track them and put them into our targeted colleges through scholarships.”

As many as 1,000 students intern yearly with Bosch, with up to 350 placed between Farmington Hills and Plymouth. More than half eventually become Bosch employees. While Bosch focuses on strategic workforce development from the high school level, kids can participate in age-appropriate FIRST activities as early as age six.

And Ackerman says this strategy is working.

“If you look at computer software development in Detroit, and start thinking of skilled workers in this space, there is no unemployment. So if you can’t buy the talent, you have to build it.”

Trainee first responders learn to save lives through mobility


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

When first responders are on their way to an emergency, nothing is more important than information, because data learned in advance can save time and lives.

Critical information can tell first reponders if the the road ahead is clear, the size of the building on fire, if people are inside, and what kind of fire suppression system exists in the building.

With smart infrastructure enabling the new world of smart mobility, EMTs could have access to this information, and much more. They’ll also need to be trained to use new tools to gather this potentially life-saving data. That's why a number of companies, including Lear Corp., have helped install an array of new sensor technology into the Combined Regional Emergency Services Training (CREST) mini-city at Oakland Community College.

In addition to Lear’s roadside unit (RSU) sensors, HAAS Alert provided consumer alert applications, Mobile Data Holdings provided real-time video, and TracksUS provided in-vehicle diagnostics.

Running the show is Elaina Farnsworth, thought leader in the autonomous and intelligent transportation industry, and Mobile Comply CEO, says the sensors should be in place by this spring, allowing first responder trainees to test them in a real-world environment. Some of the connections will run through traffic lights, and some radios will be equipped with DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) devices to see if the safety messaging channel can be more effective.

"It really allows us to be very clear and targeted around new technologies that could aid and help these emergency responders in a controlled environment," Farnsworth says.

Mobile Comply was founded in 2010 to provide education and certification work for professionals who wanted to get into connected technology. She says the CREST project is the perfect next step in both educating the next generation of first responders and testing the sensors.

"We started talking about how nice it would be if we could have a conglomerate of different companies that would contribute something to be able to start training our emergency responders how to use some of these connected vehicle technologies," she says. "How can it make their jobs easier? How can it make saving lives faster?

Eventually, she hopes to incorporate drone technology, too, into the array of sensors getting real-time data from the scene of an emergency.

Douglas Smith, executive director for workforce development at Oakland Community College, says Lear has placed the sensors in the buildings and testing will wait until the weather clears up in the springtime. From there, they'll develop training modules for emergency workers.

TEALS growth in Michigan

Computer science is a vital driver in today’s global innovation economy, but most U.S. high schools are unable to offer rigorous CS courses. Without CS in high schools, our students are missing out on essential computational skills that will help them succeed in any career they wish to pursue, and professional skills that could lead to an economically secure future. The TEALS program seeks to change that reality.

Our volunteers work directly with classroom teachers to help them build and grow their CS teaching capacity through yearlong support and training to inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

If you’re interested in the opportunity to help shape students’ career opportunities – all while having fun – TEALS is the right fit for you.

Applications are open now at tealsk12.org/volunteers.

Together, we can help build CS programs at high schools across the U.S. to empower the next generation of innovators. Here are a few ways you can sign up to volunteer with TEALS today and help change lives:If you have more questions, please contact me us at http://tealsk12.org/contact/ for more information. We’re eager to have more volunteers and happy to answer any remaining questions you may have!

TEALS has had 15 schools apply for our program in the Detroit area and 26 schools state. 

Contact:
Andrew Spiece, Regional Manager
(810) 813-0363

SS Digital Media wins Platinum Award from the Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit

SS Digital Media, a nationally recognized, integrated marketing agency, has won the Platinum Award from the Marketing and Sales Sales Executives of Detroit (MSED).

First bestowed in 1993, the Platinum Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves by helping their companies achieve critical business success. Two awards are given annually. This year’s Evening of Excellence gala will be held at the Gem Theatre on March 27.

“It has been a privilege to build an amazing team of digital strategists and experts for the last ten years,” says Nick Skislak, SS Digital Media CEO, who will accept the award. “By focusing on the customer journey, we have been able to achieve stellar results for our clients, and that’s really what it’s all about.”

The company is a finalist in three categories for the upcoming Interactive Marketing Awards and winner of the Best of Michigan Business award, as well as the IABC Renaissance Award and the PRSA Diamond Award.

Oakland County taking steps to retool its mobility workforce

There’s nothing like a challenge to get Oakland County fired up.

The challenge came in the form of a 2017 Connected Mobility Skills Needs Assessment conducted by Oakland County and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency.

The report said that if Oakland County is going to remain competitive in the coming connected mobility revolution, it needs to do a better job of developing and attracting a workforce with the right balance of engineering skills and automotive knowledge.

So local colleges and business groups are rising to meet the goal, by using this report to make improvements or changes to curricula.

Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development, says the report surveyed 50 area employers that serve the connected mobility industry, asking them what knowledge, abilities, and skills they look for in potential hires. The report was presented to educational institutions, professional organizations, and business groups around the region.

"Our goal is to ensure Oakland County’s talent pool has the required knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to meet employer demand," Llewellyn says.

The assessment, the fourth in a series of surveys in emerging technology sectors since 2009, is frank in its conclusion that eight major areas need to be addressed before Oakland County can compete with other regions in developing a mobility workforce.

The top area of concern is an "insufficient pipeline of qualified workers." There's not enough local talent with advanced degrees, and those who do, lack experience in the automotive field. This leaves many local companies with no choice but to try to poach workers from other regions. The problem is that Southeast Michigan is still perceived as a region with an outdated manufacturing base, making it harder to compete with other metropolitan areas.

Other problems identified by the survey include educational institutions offering outdated engineering degrees, visa restrictions, deficient connected mobility training programs, and a general antiquated perception of the automotive industry.

The report, while frank in its conclusions, is being used by local institutions to make improvements.

"Oakland University used the data to help shape the curriculum for their Master’s in Systems Engineering," Llewellyn says. "Other entities are reviewing the report and using it to shape future curriculum in the connected mobility space."

Lawrence Tech-based business incubator receives state grant to continue fostering innovation, growth

Small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs throughout the southeastern Michigan region could be better equipped for success, at least up until March 31, 2019, as it's been announced that the Lawrence Technological University Collaboratory Gatekeeper Business Incubator has received further funding.

The Michigan Strategic Fund has granted the business incubator a $100,000 extension as part of its total of $1.7 million in grants awarded to foster entrepreneurial support throughout the state.

This marks the third such grant for the LTU business incubator, allowing it to continue helping small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs in their scale-up efforts. The focus of the incubator remains on early-stage technology companies in the product design, engineering, and prototyping and manufacturing sectors.

"Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy," Fred Molnar, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said in a statement. "The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in not only building and growing startups in Michigan, but in attracting out-of-state talent."

The LTU incubator falls under the city of Southfield's SmartZone, a state program that fosters the growth of tech businesses and jobs by connecting universities, research facilities, and industry to one another, building a network of growth. The business incubator itself connects business leaders with everyone from mentors to college students, from workshops to workspace.

Visit the LTU Collaboratory online to learn more about its programs.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Krytronx in Novi to distribute $100M in free smart sensors for manufacturing industry

Excerpt: 

Krytronx in Novi and its iToolTag platform, which wirelessly tracks sensors placed on manufacturing tools, industrial equipment, vehicles, and other components, announced it will invest $100 million to provide free worldwide installation of its blockchain-based iOT (Internet of Things) asset tag product line.

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SS Digital Media selected as finalist for Killer Content Awards

SS Digital Media, a nationally recognized digital marketing agency, is a finalist for the Killer Content Awards, in the category “Measurable ROI.” The awards are bestowed annually by the B2B Marketing Exchange at a ceremony in February in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“This is what it’s all about,” says president Nick Skislak.  “I feel it solidifies us as a leader in digital marketing that focuses on measuring ROI.  We don’t just ‘drive traffic’ or ‘get clicks,’ we’ve focused heavily the last seven years on user experience and customer journey.  It’s great to be recognized for that.”

In 2017, the agency has been a finalist or has won a half dozen local and national awards for strategic marketing excellence. Michael Taylor, creative director and agency partner, says, “Our approach is as scientific as it is creative, because success relies on a delicate balance between the two. The data doesn’t lie, and when understood and used properly, the data is the difference between a mediocre campaign and one that gets truly amazing results.”

The agency’s work for Avian Enterprises impressed the judges because of the results generated by solution-based content created for the company that supplies bird-repellents for farms, golf courses, dairy barns, and outdoor venues. Prior to this, products had been sold primarily through distributors. Now, Avian has a thriving e-commerce presence and has seen an increase of 511% in online sales revenue.

About SS Digital Media

SS Digital Media is a nationally recognized digital marketing and advertising agency in Troy, Michigan, focused on e-commerce companies. Services include e-commerce strategies and development, search and social marketing, brand strategy and implementation, website design and optimization, video production, measurement and reporting. For more information, please visit www.ssdigitalmedia.com.


Thousands of high school students from five-county region to explore in-demand jobs this fall

As many as 10,000 students from area Michigan high schools will be exposed to opportunities in America’s hottest job sectors this fall at the inaugural MiCareerQuest Southeast, the region’s largest hands-on career exploration experience.

Set for Nov. 28 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, the event aims to connect students from Oakland, Livingston, Macomb, Wayne and Washtenaw counties with working professionals from nearly 100 companies from throughout the region. The students will take part in hands-on, interactive demonstrations and conversations that highlight in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences and information technology.

The event is being organized by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and Michigan Works! agencies throughout southeast Michigan. The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is the presenting sponsor.

“Our goal is to help thousands of students connect classroom learning with the real-world jobs in greatest demand today,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “MiCareerQuest Southeast promises to be very interactive, giving the students opportunities to touch, feel and work with actual workplace equipment, tools and technology, plus ask working professionals questions about what they do and how to get there. And of course, we want to show students these jobs are right here in their own backyards.”

MiCareerQuest Southeast is an offshoot of a program created by the West Michigan Works! Agency, which hosted the inaugural MiCareerQuest event in Grand Rapids in 2015. Since then, it has become a hugely popular event for schools and employers alike, with available spots filling up in hours. In 2017, more than 9,000 students attended MiCareerQuest in Grand Rapids.

Schools can sign up to participate on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are approximately 10,000 student spots available. Starting March 1, high schools will have the option of signing up for one of three time slots, each lasting two hours: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; 10 a.m. to noon; and noon to 2 p.m.

“This will be a fast-paced, high-energy event, with groups of students working their way through the four separate career quadrants,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Michigan Works! “Working professionals will be sharing their enthusiasm for what they do through engaging, hands-on demonstrations. Students should be prepared to get involved. They’re going to be busy during their two-hour visit.”

The success of MiCareerQuest Southeast will rely on financial support and involvement of sponsors and employers who will staff the career quadrants, Llewellyn said.

There are event sponsorship opportunities available, with varying degrees of exposure. Organizations that purchase a platinum, gold or silver sponsorship will have a seat on a career quadrant steering committee and reserved space on the show floor to showcase their technology or vocation. Interested companies may also participate as a quadrant exhibitor and engage students directly, share career expertise and advice.

“This is a win for everyone involved,” Llewellyn said. “The sponsors and employers will have the opportunity to connect with the students and start building a talent pipeline for the future, while the students will be exposed to many job possibilities that are expected to be in hot demand for many years to come.”

Organizations or school representatives interested in participating in MiCareerQuest Southeast should attend a special kick-off meeting Thursday, March 1, from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m., at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. Register at AdvantageOakland.Eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE or call Oakland County Michigan Works!, 248-858-5520.

IoT TechConnect conference in Troy to increase awareness of opportunities, threats posed by Internet

Excerpt

The Internet of Things (IoT) TechConnect conference, to be held on April 4 at the Troy Marriott, will provide attendees with a greater understanding of the opportunities and threats posed by IoT. As more devices connect to the internet, there are more opportunities for hackers to get into computer systems. The event will focus on IoT companies, experts, and training in Michigan.

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WIN unveils innovative data hub with free, real-time job market data for southeast Michigan

A high volume of job postings year after year in southeast Michigan means that employers are hiring, but without a skilled workforce, they cannot fill these jobs. To aid workforce and education partners in developing necessary training and education opportunities to fill these in-demand jobs with skilled workers, the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) created a comprehensive FREE, online Data Dashboard providing users access to real-time job market data such as employer demand, preferred credentials, labor force fluctuations, and more. By having access to this data, workforce partners can work collaboratively to create awareness about in-demand career pathways and help educate and train workers.

The WIN Data Dashboard allows users to select a customized region from counties including Genesee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne, as well as the City of Detroit. After selecting a region, users select one or more occupation groups from eleven major occupation groups and the WIN Data Dashboard uses this information to produce customized charts, graphs, numbers, and more, all showing job demand data for the user’s preferences and allowing users to download and share the data.

“The WIN Data Dashboard was created as a complimentary service and resource to organizations such as community colleges, Michigan Works! agencies, foundations, and corporations with an interest in providing critical skills development training opportunities to support the region’s in-demand jobs,” said Michele Economou Ureste, WIN’s Executive Director. “In addition to helping connect employers and workforce partners, WIN aims to assist in developing talent that will eliminate the skills gap and provide sustainable careers for Michigan residents.”

With over 611,000 jobs posted in the WIN region in 2017, there is a talent shortage for in-demand occupations in Michigan. The WIN Data Dashboard provides free labor market data resource to anyone interested, allowing all stakeholders to create opportunities to help train a ready workforce to meet the needs of employers.

“WIN’s data and research provides Michigan Works! Southeast and similar organizations with a comprehensive understanding of the region’s labor market,” said Bill Sleight, Director of Michigan Works! Southeast and WIN board member. “My organization uses this resource to help job seekers make informed career decisions so they can become the next generation of skilled workers in Michigan.”

The WIN Data Dashboard can be accessed at WINDataDashboard.org.

WIN also produces customized data and highly detailed reports such as its Cybersecurity Skills Gap Analysis report, the Connected and Automated Vehicles Skills Gap Analysis report, and other high-level research for employers and workforce organizations in Michigan. For more information about the Data Dashboard or to request custom data, please contact research@WINintelligence.org.


Bosch Group in Farmington Hills establishes SEG Automotive, independent company for hybrid tech

Excerpt:

The starter motor and generator division of the Bosch Group in Farmington Hills has announced its completed transition to an independent company, SEG Automotive. The new company is owned by Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group Co., and has established its headquarters in Novi, which will employ 60 people.

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