Generator has been rapidly building its Workforce Development Programs over the last 4 years to meet Vermont’s growing workforce needs and to support Vermont teachers and students by providing more  access and opportunity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education.

To accommodate this rapid growth, Generator seeks to build greater capacity for our workforce development initiatives. We envision a pipeline of opportunities with multiple access points that can serve historically marginalized youth and underserved communities with the goal to prepare them for STEAM careers.

Since 2015, Generator has been providing enhanced, hands-on, experiential STEAM opportunities to middle and high schools. Over the past few years, Generator’s youth programming has grown exponentially to meet the State’s need for education and workforce development in manufacturing, fabrication and innovative technology. These growing opportunities have shown that Vermont schools and educators have a critical need for curriculum, tools, and technical support in STEAM education to help graduate workforce-ready students. In addition to our youth education programs, Generator is excited to bring our Workforce Development programs to Vermont.

Generator was recently awarded $365,000 from Senator Leahy’s congressionally directed spending request within the Omnibus Appropriations bill to establish makerspaces in 5 rural Vermont high schools.

Makerspace Classrooms in Vermont High Schools

In partnership with the high school Work-Based Learning (WBL) coordinators, Generator will provide technical expertise in the selection, purchase, and layout of a baseline set of rapid prototyping tools to be installed in high schools with a pre-existing space that will be turned into a dedicated makerspace. Tools will include: an industry laser cutter, 3D printers, a mini CNC router and advanced 3D design software. These makerspace classrooms will allow Generator to more easily bring programs (DMF and DL) to schools and lays the groundwork for self-sustaining makerspace education. In 2020, Generator piloted this with Spaulding High School to support their initiative to build a makerspace.

Generator’s Workforce Development Programs & Makerspace Education

Design Lab (DL)

A short-run design-build program targeting 7th-12th graders in partnership with schools and non-profit organizations throughout Vermont. In 3-5 days of programming at the Generator facility, school groups explore design-thinking methodology and introductory fabrication techniques through building projects such as: Marble Maze Challenge, Laser Cut Phone Stands, and Living Hinge Design Journals. Design Lab has served more than 450 participants through partner nonprofit organizations including the King Street Center, Spaulding High School, the Governor’s Institute of Vermont, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

Digital Modeling and Fabrication (DMF)

A program for young adults ages 15-24 that provides education in manufacturing and fabrication as a precursor for College-level training or alternative post-secondary tracks.  With access to Generator, students explore a variety of digital fabrication tools, techniques, and software; primarily focusing on CNC (computer numerical control) machinery and additive manufacturing (3D printing). DMF provides an investment in our youth that can tear down barriers to education in manufacturing and innovative technology.

Advanced Manufacturing Day

A day-long conference and networking event to connect high schoolers with local manufacturing companies, colleges, and trade schools to showcase career possibilities and build a greater network and pipeline for our workforce. Prior to the pandemic, Generator hosted this event in central Vermont in partnership with Spaulding High School. In 2022 and ongoing, we plan to host this event at Generator’s makerspace to be a space for networking and collaboration.

Professional Development for WBL Coordinators and STEAM Teachers

This train-the-teacher program provides ongoing professional development for Vermont educators, particularly for Work-Based Learning Coordinators and STEAM teachers. Generator prepares teachers to teach the same innovative technical skills provided by DMF. They can expand on Generator’s DMF and/or Design Lab programs to become self-sufficient or to extend the programming that Generator offers. Generator first ran this program in 2020 for 4 high school teachers, when programming had to pivot due to the pandemic, and all participants found it very impactful.

Fabrication Internships

In two to three years, Generator plans to offer summer internships for DMF students providing additional opportunity to grow their skills through on-the-job training. This plan is based on the growth of Generator’s public fabrication services that grew out of our response to the pandemic, fabricating face shields, innovating solutions for covid testing sites, and building outdoor market huts for downtowns. Generator saw the benefit of having building projects serve as training grounds for those learning tools, skills, design, and fabrication. This program will provide career training and mentorship while expanding on in-school experience through the DMF program. This earn while you learn program will provide access to Generator tools, expertise, and a community of makers.

Certificates of Value for Makerspace Education

On the horizon, Generator seeks to go one step further by providing certificates of value and dual enrollment opportunities, where participants in our workforce development programs can earn stackable credentials that are recognized by regional manufacturers and higher education institutions such as CCV or Vermont Tech. The program will work with local manufacturing and tech companies to translate job requirements into a curriculum that is accessible at various entry points and lends itself to both job placement and preparation for post-secondary degrees. The Maker Certification is in early-stage development, gaining concept feedback from the VT Agency of Education, VT Talent Pipeline, Vermont Higher Education Collaborative, and other key business partners.