Retooling Theory and Practice

Posted on June 12, 2008  Comments (0)

Retooling Theory and Practice

“Education in the composites industry is haphazard at best,” admits Gregor Welpton, president of Black Feather Boats (Douglas, Alaska). Although a number of training programs for both engineers and technicians have been spawned over the years, they are essentially independent and, therefore, largely unrelated efforts. The product of universities, community colleges, regional training centers, technical institutes, private training companies and composites vendors, these offerings run a wide gamut from undergraduate and advanced degrees and technical certifications to short courses and periodic seminars. A variety of teaching methods are employed by these programs, including classroom instruction and/or video-based training, video-interactive training and, least likely, hands-on lab work.

“Currently, composites education is being driven by the individual institution,” explains Andre Cocquyt, president of GRPGuru (Brunswick, Maine) and one of the architects of a new composites training curriculum being developed in Brunswick. “There is no consistent approach, no consistent level of education, no qualification,” he adds. The unintended consequence is a dramatic variation in the competency levels of program graduates.

Speaking for many industry business owners, Welpton says the time has come for a coordinated industrywide education effort: “The industry needs an education initiative,” he says, “so that the employers know what they’re getting out of the institutions and the employees know what is expected of them when they show up to work.”

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