The Workforce Institute is St. Petersburg College’s professional development provider committed to preparing professionals to meet the needs of today’s workforce. The Institute provides individuals and corporations with the skills and certifications that today’s fast-paced and ever-changing job market demands.  With the Workforce Institute’s recent adoption of the Mini Urban Challenge, some of which will be on display at ROBOTICON,  and growing growing involvement in FIRST programs, we asked Dr. Susan Garrett, Program Director for Industry Certifications,  to tell us more about the Workforce Institute.

ROBOTICON:  What does the Workforce Institute do?

Mini Urban Challenge

SG: Our basic skills, continuing education, lifelong learning, certification, and certificate programs will help prepare and propel you towards your goals, without the pressures of earning a degree. Our programs range across the industry sectors of Business, Information & Innovative Technologies, Allied Healthcare, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Public Safety, and International Languages and are aligned with the skilled workforce needs of these industries.

The Workforce Institute is also the “keeper” of the Mini Urban Challenge competition environment. Designed by the Doolittle Institute, the Air Force Research Laboratory and Special Operations Command, the competition challenges high school students to design and program a robotic vehicle that can autonomously navigate a mini-urban city.

ROBOTICON: Why is your organization supporting ROBOTICON?

SG: The Workforce Institute students come to us looking for certifications that will assist their efforts to find employment and to advance in their chosen career fields. As Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Technologies become more and more pervasive, it is important to provide programs of value to them in these exciting arenas. To understand what that looks like, we need to be present and participating real time.

ROBOTICON: Why do you think ROBOTICON is important, now and in the long term?

SG: Connecting people to one another and to educational opportunities that will be of value now and in the future. We need to grow together to meet the challenges of these new technologies.

ROBOTICON: Why do you believe FIRST K-12 project based STEM learning is important ?

SG: Work is changing, workforce needs are changing. To embrace these changes and to create educational opportunities for students, employers, and communities, we need to set aside that which is currently the norm and look ahead to understand how we can pace ourselves to meet the needs and demands of tomorrow’s workplace. This means working together, understanding what is going on in K-12 STEM education and how we in higher education prepare to rethink our curriculum and our teaching methods.

You can hear and meet Dr. Garrett at our Manufacturing the Future panel discussion, at 11am Saturday, October 7, at ROBOTICON. Get your free tickets to attend at Eventbrite!

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