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Manufacturing Institute: Badges for Informal Learning and Experiences


Recognizing informal learning of the skills and qualities students and workers need to be successful in today's Advanced Manufacturing workplace.


The Manufacturing Institute intends to create a National Manufacturing Badge System, recognizing the wide range of skills, competencies, capacities, qualities and achievements students and workers need to be successful in today’s Advanced Manufacturing workplace and acquire through their participation in a number of world-class youth- and worker-development organizations partnered with The Manufacturing Institute.

These are skills, competencies, capacities, qualities and achievements that manufacturing executives and enterprises value and look for in employment relationships.  Many of The Manufacturing Institute’s education partners – high schools, community colleges, and 4-year institutions provide the venues for these partner activities and can be supportive of the National Manufacturing Badge System.  These education leaders recognize that they are providing the formal learning content through their degree programs of study, but the informal learning pursued by students and workers through these other organizational activities contribute significantly to each individual’s expertise and employability.

The Manufacturing Institute has built and deployed formal education pathways to manufacturing careers via the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, now underway in high schools and two and four-year colleges across the country.  These education pathways include nationally-portable, industry-recognized credentials that validate core employability and technical skills for all sectors in manufacturing.  However, the classroom is no longer the only place where valuable skills are honed, and there are important qualities – being a team player or being a great mentor – that are not necessarily reflected in degrees and certifications. Manufacturing employers have typically clung to a limited notion of self-promotion – the résumé – as the primary mechanism for screening potential hires. The National Manufacturing Badge system and the badges it supports will supplement the formal learning requirements and pathways and will provide individuals with an additional platform—based online—to instantly convey to employers what they know and what skills and experiences they bring to the table.

There are multiple audiences for this National Manufacturing Badge System.  The primary audiences are students who seek to develop important skills and competencies beyond their formal education, educators and mentors who cultivate these skills, and employers who recognize the value of these informal learning experiences in their future workforce.  Additionally, workers across many related industry sectors can participate in these activities, gaining important recognition of achievements and new skills that are directly applicable to their mobility in employment across multiple sectors in the economy. 

The main goals of the National Manufacturing Badge System are to help ensure an educated and skilled 21st Advanced Manufacturing workforce, critical to the innovation capacity and business success of U.S. manufacturers in the global economy; to link and leverage formal and informal learning environments and opportunities benefitting students and workers; and to bring national recognition to world-class informal learning organizations that contribute to both student and business success.


  • There is no existing badge system or design.


  • The National Manufacturing Badge System will contribute to the larger badge ecosystem in several ways:  It will serve as a model for other industry sectors in linking and leveraging partnerships with formal education institutions and informal learning organizations; the badges will represent skills, competencies, capacities, qualities and achievements that are applicable across industry sectors, e.g., energy and construction; it will inspire practical use of the larger badge ecosystem by adding value that translates to high quality, middle class jobs. 


  • The National Manufacturing Badge System will emphasize and acknowledge critical thinking, creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving, teamwork, leadership, performance, ethics, and technical and industry knowledge.  These “street smarts” and “book smarts” are directly aligned to the needs of manufacturers, who are looking for the next generation of skilled talent that can drive innovation, invent the next big products, and keep their companies competitive in the global marketplace.   


  • The National Manufacturing Badge System will be an umbrella system that links and categorizes achievements and learning across partners and programs working to engage and educate individuals about manufacturing and prepare them socially, academically, and professionally for in-demand careers in the industry. Partners are chosen based on their programs’ quality, rigor, and outcomes in giving individuals the experiences and skills they need to be successful in advanced manufacturing.  The initial significant partners in developing this National Manufacturing Badge System are The Manufacturing Institute, and its career navigation and recruitment program, Dream It. Do It., SkillsUSA, and Project Lead the Way:



The Manufacturing Institute


The Manufacturing Institute is the non-profit, non-partisan affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers dedicated to changing the face of manufacturing in the country so that policy makers (government), educators, and the public understand its importance and take action to sustain and expand the industry in the United States. 


The Institute’s agenda focuses on delivering cutting-edge solutions and services to make all manufacturers globally competitive, deploying the highest-quality education and training for a world-class manufacturing workforce and making manufacturing a coveted career choice of young people. 


In partnership with some of the leading consulting firms in the country, the Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.  Grounding all initiatives are four key elements critical to supporting U.S. manufacturing.


Changing the Image of Manufacturing


Positioning manufacturing as the bedrock of the economy and the creator of a stable middle-class is the heart of the Institute’s message about manufacturing.  Dream It. Do It., the Institute-managed national manufacturing recruitment and career awareness initiative, changes the image of manufacturing in the eyes of students, parents, educators, and decision-makers.


An Educated and Skilled Workforce is Key to Manufacturers’ Global Competitiveness


The belief that talent development drives innovation and economic competitiveness guides the Institute’s education reform and workforce development agenda.  The Institute has designed and deployed the national manufacturing education reform agenda, implementing the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.  This system of industry-recognized credentials integrated in high schools, community and 4-year colleges and universities, creates efficient, competency-based education pathways to careers ranging from skilled production to engineering and in all sectors in the manufacturing economy.  Recognizing the demographic realities of our current and future workforce, the Institute designs customized education and training strategies from Pre-K to Gray and for each underrepresented population. 


Innovation is Manufacturers’ Edge


The Institute believes that innovation is the most critical factor in U.S. manufacturers’ success in the global economy.  The Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research and Innovation conducts programs, projects, and research designed to help U.S. manufacturers innovate and regions create the support systems needed to encourage that innovation. The Institute is currently connecting manufacturers to the nation’s innovation assets including new technologies developed under the National Science Foundation’s SBIR Program and modeling and simulation capacity at the nation’s universities.


Research Supports Policies


The Institute produces comprehensive, data-based research to enable industry, government, media, and the public to understand the full scope of issues manufacturers face today. Telling the dynamic story of domestic manufacturing is imperative to advocate its strength and value to the economy. The Institute produces a consistently updated library of the latest data around the opportunities and challenges for U.S. manufacturing, including the facts about the economy, the manufacturing image, structural costs associated with market competitiveness, solutions for innovation and market development, and innovative thinking on human resources best-practices, education reform, and workforce development. Widely cited reports include:


  • The Structural Cost Study, highlighting the 17.6% cost disadvantage manufacturers face in the United States
  • The Facts About Modern Manufacturing, indicating that manufacturers are leaner, high-tech, and the most productive, but need supportive public policies
  • The Annual Public Perception Survey, tracking what the public thinks about manufacturing 
  • The Skills Gap, analyzing the skills shortage in the U.S. manufacturing workforce and what needs to be done about it




Founded in 1965, SkillsUSA[1] is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit national association of 300,000 member students and educators partnering with business and industry to ensure that America has a well-prepared skilled workforce.  One hundred thirty (130) trade, technical and skilled service occupational titles are represented among curricula of SkillsUSA’s student membership.  The program is delivered through almost 17,000 SkillsUSA member sections (classrooms) in more than 3,700 public schools in all 50 states, DC and three U.S. territories.  These schools are comprehensive high schools with career and technical curricula, regional career and technical education centers, and two-year colleges. Recently, SkillsUSA also has begun to develop chapters in workforce development agencies outside of traditional schools.  


In the 2010-11 academic year, SkillsUSA’s membership was composed of


  • 247,845 high school students
  • 13,682 professionals (educators) from the High School Division
  • 36,469 College/Postsecondary students
  • 2,989 professionals (educators) from the C/PS Division
  • 19,302 registered Alumni
  • 284,314 total students
  • 16,671 total professionals
  • 320,287 TOTAL MEMBERS (including registered Alumni)


SkillsUSA student members pay $8.00 annual national dues and professional members (instructors/advisors/administrators) pay $14 annual dues.  State association dues and sometimes local chapter dues are also collected.  In some cases the school will pay the membership dues for its students. 


At the local level, the SkillsUSA chapter carries out a Program of Work.  All SkillsUSA programs are in some way related to the following seven major goals.  The Program of Work, properly executed, is co-curricular, not extra-curricular, and is integrated into daily lesson plans and activities of the classroom and lab.  Each chapter elects a slate of student officers who conduct the chapter’s business meetings. 


Professional Development: prepares each SkillsUSA member for entry into the work force and provides a foundation for career success and productive citizenship.  This includes career exploration and the development of communication skills, ethics, teamwork, government awareness, time management, customer service and other employability and citizenship skills imparted through chapter activities and taught through our award-winning Professional Development Program (PDP) curriculum and our college/adult-level Career Skills Education Program (CSEP).


SkillsUSA Championships: offers students the opportunity to demonstrate through competitions their leadership or hands-on occupational skills, to learn current industry expectations, and to receive recognition for achievement.  Winners advance from local Skills competition to district (in some states), then to state and finally to the national SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City during the last full week in June.


SkillsUSA Championships competitions at all levels are designed and managed by technical committees drawn from the ranks of business, industry and labor.  Industry experts also judge these contests.  Involvement with SkillsUSA Championships competitions and chapter Program of Work activities gives industry probably the most direct pipeline to curriculum reform in American public education.  SkillsUSA teachers teach what business and industry preach.


Community Service: promotes good will and understanding through services donated by SkillsUSA chapters, and instills in members a lifetime commitment to community service. 


Employment: increases students’ awareness of quality job practices and attitudes through job shadowing, internships, summer employment, co-op programs and apprenticeships while in school.


Ways and Means: promotes chapter fund-raising activities to allow all members to carry out the chapter’s projects, including travel costs to skills competitions and leadership training events.


Public Relations: creates public awareness of the good work that SkillsUSA students are doing to better themselves and their community.


Social activities: increases cooperation in the school and community through activities that allow members to get to know each other outside the classroom or work place.


Partnerships with business, industry and organized labor are SkillsUSA’s lifeblood.  More than 1,000 partners support SkillsUSA at the national level with financial donations and/or in-kind contributions of contest equipment, supplies and prizes and volunteer time and talent.  Thousands more partnerships operate at the local and state levels of SkillsUSA. 


There are three basic levels of organization within SkillsUSA: local, state and national.


  • At local chapters, elected student officers organize and member students carry out the Program of Work under the guidance of a teacher-advisor. 


  • State association directors, usually a state Education department employee or state contract employee, provide chapter membership development and state student officer leadership training, oversee the local chapters within his or her state and conduct the state-level SkillsUSA Championships and leadership conferences. 


  • The SkillsUSA National Office provides
    • Management of the National Leadership and Skills Conference and its highlight event, the SkillsUSA Championships,
    • Leadership and employability skills curriculum development and training,
    • Publications and member communication vehicles such as Champions magazine and the national Web site (,
    • Fund raising and program delivery for national mission-related projects,
    • Service to SkillsUSA’s state associations,
    • Legislative awareness and response,
    • Training and management of student National Officers, and
    • Development of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam, which competes in the biennial WorldSkills Competition. 


The SkillsUSA Leadership Center is located north of Leesburg in northern Virginia, about 25 miles northwest of Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport. 


Dream It. Do It.


Why: U.S. manufacturers face major human capital challenges that threaten their competitiveness in today’s complex, integrated global economy.  A highly skilled, educated workforce is the principal driver of innovation success, but a hard asset to acquire.  According to a joint study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, People and Profitability, even at the height of the global recession, 32% of surveyed companies reported moderate to serious skills shortages in the hiring pool.  And, though retirements slowed during this recession, they will pick up again once people “right their economic boats.”  Compounding this challenge is the reality that today’s young students do not pursue careers in manufacturing.  Another study published by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, Public View on Manufacturing, reports that while the majority of surveyed Americans view U.S. manufacturing as a national priority, only about a third of parents would encourage their children to go into manufacturing.  Human capital shortages will persist as the baby boomers retire, technological advances require more advanced skill sets, and our global competitors continue to surpass our educational system in producing a high-volume, high-quality technical workforce. 


What: Dream It. Do It. is the public-facing message about high-tech, high-wage careers in manufacturing.  As a national manufacturing careers recruitment strategy, the program’s aim is to inform, excite, educate and employ the next generation of manufacturing talent.  As a workforce and economic development initiative, Dream It. Do It. fosters growth, innovation and jobs by building entrepreneurial, regional alliances and providing youth-oriented awareness and education initiatives designed to capture and prepare the next generation of skilled American manufacturing talent.  Dream It. Do It. is also positioned as an engagement tool that feeds young students into specific educational pathways aligned with career pathways in high-quality, high-paying jobs.  These pathways are specifically accessible through the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.


The Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Careers Recruitment Strategy

  • Promotes a clear understanding of advanced, high-tech manufacturing and its contribution to innovation, productivity, economic growth, wealth building, and high-quality jobs;
  • Promotes a modern image of manufacturing aimed at 16-26 year olds, their parents, and educators, that expels old stereotypes of manufacturing;
  • Promotes strong regional, cluster-oriented, pro-manufacturing partnerships among local business, political, education, and civic leaders, and economic developers;
  • Offers an engaging, interactive website that serves as a dynamic resource for students to explore an array of manufacturing jobs and the skills and education levels required for them; and,
  • Serves as an initial channel into aligned educational pathways in post-secondary education and career pathways in valuable manufacturing jobs through the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.


Dream It. Do It. is a national umbrella brand and strategy that is deployed locally so that programs and marketing can be customized to meet the needs of local industry.  These local programs—tested and proven “on the ground”—are compiled into a library of national resources, which documents and shares best-practices and tools so that other Dream It. Do It. teams can replicate these proven initiatives in their own communities. Some of these replicable programs include:

  • The student Manufacturing Dream Team
  • The Manufacturing Ambassadors Program
  • The Made in (State): Manufacturing Makes it Real Bus Tour
  • A Season of Manufacturing
  • Targeted and Mass Social Networking and Marketing
  • Career Navigation Games


Dream It. Do It. is now active in 20 states or regions across the nation where industry and education-led coalitions are promoting manufacturing careers awareness and aligning education and training opportunities to meet the workforce needs of regional manufacturers. 

The Manufacturing Institute also is reaching out to Project Lead The Way and First Robotics to determine their interest in participating in the National Manufacturing Badge System.


Project Lead the Way


Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the national’s leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum for schools.  PLTW’s hands-on, Activities-, Project-, Problem-Based (APPB) comprehensive curriculum is aligned with relevant national standards and is collaboratively developed and updated by subject-matter experts – including teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators.  PLTW’s programs emphasize critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving.  The hands-on learning engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to areas of study that they may not otherwise pursue, and provides them with a foundation and proven path to post-secondary training and career success in STEM-related fields.


Launched in 1997 in high schools in upstate New York, PLTW was designed to address the shortage of engineering students at the college level.  Today, more than 4,000 middle and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will offer PLTW programs, enrolling more than 400,000 students in STEM education courses (2011-2012 school year).  PLTW has also trained more than 10,500 teachers to instruct its courses. 


PLTW teachers and school counselors are able to access a nationwide support network comprised of PLTW’s national staff, master teachers, university affiliates, corporate and philanthropic sponsors and state leaders (education professionals employed by state Departments of Education).  PLTWA has more than 40 affiliate colleges and university partners that offer students college-level recognition, such as college credit, admissions preference and scholarships, for completing certain PLTW courses in high school.  These universities also provide an intensive two-week professional development course during the summer that teachers are required to complete before teaching a PLTW course.  PLTW’s corporate and foundation partners and STEM associations and organizations offer materials, mentorships, technology, equipment and grants, as well as internships that allow students to see firsthand how their classroom learning applies to the real world.    


Challenges and Opportunities


  • There are both challenges and opportunities in creating this National Manufacturing Badge System.  Among the challenges are:


  • The partner organizations are non-profit organizations with extensive education portfolios.  Ensuring the capacity to develop all relevant content will be a challenge;
  • The partner organizations do not have the technical systems or teams to support digital learner interactions or issuing badges;
  • Much of the informal learning content can be validated only by performance.   Modeling and simulation capabilities may be necessary to measure and account for new skills and knowledge.


  • The opportunities include:


  • Connecting the Open Badge Infrastructure directly to The Manufacturing Institute’s web-based “Engagement to Education to Employment” Pipeline, which is being rolled out as the U.S. Manufacturing Pipeline.  Thus, badges earned and collected could be “transported” directly to a student’s or worker’s “e-portfolio” to present a comprehensive picture of skills, competencies, qualities, and achievements to both educational institutions and manufacturing employers;
  • The National Manufacturing Badge System will support and encourage participation in impactful, results-oriented youth- and worker-development organizations and their informal learning opportunities, producing a more highly educated and skilled 21st century workforce.


  • Following are the partner organizations’ initial thoughts about developing content representing specific skills, competencies, capacities, qualities, and achievements.  This includes information on how and where the informal learning occurs.


SkillsUSA Badge


SkillsUSA would require its member students and alumni aspiring to a SkillsUSA Badge to complete Levels 1 and 2 of SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program (PDP) or its Web version, PDP Online.  These activity-based lessons require students to


  • 1.1 Complete a self-assessment and indentify individual learning styles
  • 1.2 Discover self-motivation techniques and establish short-term goals
  • 1.3 Determine individual time-management skills
  • 1.4 Define future occupations
  • 1.5 Develop awareness of cultural diversity and equity issues
  • 1.6 Define the customer
  • 1.7 Recognize the benefits of doing a community service project
  • 1.8 Demonstrate effective communication with others
  • 1.9 Participate in a job shadowing activity
  • 1.10 Identify the components of an employment portfolio
  • 1.11 Explore what’s ethical in a workplace or school
  • 1.12 List proficiency in program competencies
  • 2.1 Measure/modify short-term goals
  • 2.2 Identify stress sources
  • 2.3 Select characteristics of a positive image
  • 2.4 Demonstrate awareness of government
  • 2.5 Demonstrate awareness of professional organizations and trade unions
  • 2.6 Apply team skills to a group project
  • 2.7 Observe and critique a meeting
  • 2.8 Demonstrate business meeting skills
  • 2.9 Explore workplace ethics: codes of conduct
  • 2.10 Demonstrate social etiquette
  • 2.11 Complete a survey for employment opportunities
  • 2.12 Review a professional journal and develop a three- to five-minute presentation.
  • 2.13 Identify customer expectations
  • 2.14 Complete a job application
  • 2.15 Identify a mentor
  • 2.16 Assemble your employment portfolio
  • 2.17 Explore supervisory and management roles in an organization
  • 2.18 Recognize safety issues
  • 2.19 Employability skills: evaluate program comprehension


SkillsUSA would also require Badge aspirants to either


  • Win a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal in one of the following competitions at a state-level SkillsUSA Championships.
    • Automated Manufacturing Technology
    • CNC Milling
    • CNC Turning
    • Engineering Technology/Design
    • Industrial Motor Control
    • Mechatronics
    • Precision Machining Technology
    • Robotics and Automation Technology
    • Welding
    • Welding Fabrication




  • Acquire a Skill Connect Certificate by achieving an industry-defined threshold score in an industry-designed online, interactive test of entry-level technical knowledge in one of the following Skill Connect Assessments.
    • Automated Manufacturing Technology
    • CNC Milling & Turning Technology
    • Engineering Technology
    • Mechatronics
    • Robotics
    • Welding




  • Achieve an industry certification that aligns with the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System. 


As an example, in the SkillsUSA Championships Automated Manufacturing Technology contest, the Standards and Competencies require contestants to be prepared to


  • Perform mathematical and measurement calculations in automated manufacturing situations.  Five measurement and calculation sub-competencies are listed.
  • Design, sketch and plan machine work to U.S. National CAD Standards.  Seven sub-competencies are listed.
  • Create a tool path (CAM file) and CNC code to related duty tasks of the National Institute of Manufacturing Skills (NIMS) Duties and Standards for Machining Skills, Level 1.  Eight sub-competencies are listed.
  • Perform CNC machining functions given a scenario to the related duty tasks of the NIMS Duties and Standards for Machining Skills, Level 1.  Thirteen sub-competencies are listed. 
  • Perform and inspect part(s) using a Total Quality Management process.  Three sub-competencies are listed.
  • Demonstrate safety practices in a working situation to the related duty tasks of the NIMS Duties and Standards for Machining Skills, Level 1.  Three sub-competencies are listed. 
  • Provide an accurate quotation given an automated manufacturing technology simulated scenario.  One sub-competency listed. 


Additionally, the Technical Standards for the Automated Manufacturing Technology contest identifies Math Skills, Science Skills, and Language Arts Skills that are embedded in the contest. Each hands-on contest also includes some element of professional (soft skill) assessment and a written test of relevant technical knowledge, both of which are added in the student’s final score. 


Related to the above example, the content blueprint for the Skill Connect Assessment in Automated Manufacturing Technology largely mirrors the same set of Standards and Competencies.  In the case of the Skill Connect Assessments, the student must interpret information from written, photographic, and animated depictions in order to interactively answer questions about technical knowledge and hands-on process protocols and procedures. 


Both technical and employability skills are delivered by industry-experienced instructors who volunteer to also serve as SkillsUSA advisors within the Career and Technical classroom and lab.  SkillsUSA chapters are found in comprehensive high schools, regional career and technology centers, or two-year colleges.  Technical instruction is supplemented and informed by the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards.  Employability skills pedagogy embedded in the SkillsUSA Program of Work is delivered through almost 17,000 SkillsUSA member sections (classrooms) in more than 3,700 public schools in all 50 states, DC and three U.S. territories.  The Program of Work, properly executed, is co-curricular, not extra-curricular, and is integrated into daily lesson plans and activities of the classroom and lab.  The Program of Work includes competitions, professional development, community service, in-school employment, social activities, public relations and chapter fund raising.  Each chapter elects a slate of student officers that conducts the chapter’s business meetings and carries out the Program of Work under the guidance of the chapter advisor. 


The Professional Development Program (PDP) has long served as SkillsUSA’s flagship employability skills curriculum.  It was most recently revised in 2010.  PDP Online was created in 2008 and updated in 2010.  In both formats of PDP, content was created and periodically updated by teams of SkillsUSA educators and business partners.  The 1991 Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) served as the foundation upon which PDP’s original Transition Skills Matrix was constructed. 


The student’s instructor signs off on the satisfactory completion of each PDP lesson and awards certificates for successful completion of each PDP level.


The SkillsUSA Championships hands-on contests are designed and managed by volunteer “technical committees” drawn from the ranks of business, industry and labor. The technical committees are charged with creating a live test of skills and competencies expected of an entry-level worker in the relevant industry.  The contests are judged by other volunteers from business, industry and labor.  Procedures, protocols, competencies, criteria and academic cross-walks for each contest are encoded in a national publication, the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards, which is widely studied by SkillsUSA instructors and students in preparing for a SkillsUSA Championships contest.


We ask the technical committees to review for industry relevancy and modify their contest’s technical standards every two years. 


To participate in a state-level Champions contest, the student must have prevailed in local and district contests, also managed and judged by business and industry volunteers.  State-level Gold medalists compete in the national SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City held at the end of June, part of SkillsUSA’s annual National Leadership and Skills Conference.  Based on scoring criteria, we award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to place winners in the High School division and to place winners in the College/Postsecondary division of each contest. 


Similar to the hands-on contests of the SkillsUSA Championships, the Skill Connect Assessments (B) were also designed by the same volunteer technical committees, but with the intent of creating an online, interactive, media-rich assessment correlating to the hands-on SkillsUSA Championships contests, in this case targeting job aspirants who have acquired their skills informally or through alternative learning (e.g., Web based) sources. Each Assessment has a bank of 200 questions items that have been tested by psychometricians for reliability, resulting in four forms of a 50-question proctored online test. 


The Skill Connect Assessments have a Learning Management System that produces instant scoring reports and a printable Skill Connect Certificate (if qualifying) for the test-taker upon completion of the Assessment.  Individual and compiled scoring reports are then available to instructors and administrators. 


Our SkillsUSA state directors can report to us on place winners in their annual state-level SkillsUSA Championships.  SkillsUSA would install a process of promoting and reviewing student/alumni applications for badge status that entails verifying with instructors certificates of successful completion of PDP Levels 1 & 2, procuring lists of state-level SkillsUSA Championships place winners from SkillsUSA state directors, and cross-checking attainment of Skill Connect Certificates from our own Work force Ready System database.



Dream It. Do It. Badge


A Dream It. Do It. Badge would be available to individuals who are engaged in programs and activities around advancing the image of manufacturing, recruiting the next generation workforce, and/or serving as liaisons between education and career counseling and the manufacturing workplace.  Dream It. Do It. Badge-holders are ambassadors of manufacturing careers and have key roles in communicating and demonstrating the wide-range of opportunities in manufacturing.  These individuals embody the Dream It. Do It. message: if you can dream it, and learn it, you can do it in manufacturing.



Those who are eligible for  Dream It. Do It. Badge include:

  • Current high school or college students pursuing formal education pathways or informal learning experiences in manufacturing career tracks;
  • Current manufacturing employees who work with schools or other institutions/ organizations deploying career services; or
  • Educators, administrators, or executives working to inform, excite, educate and employ the next generation of skilled manufacturing talent. 


Roles and Responsibilities

Dream It. Do It. Badge-holders must affiliate with the state/regional or national Dream It. Do It. program and engage in at least some of the following activities:

  • Interact with students to promote careers in manufacturing
  • Speak at schools to parents, teachers, and counselors who influence students’ career decision-making
  • Help facilitate student internships and teacher externships at manufacturing employers
  • Help facilitate plant tours for a first hand look at modern manufacturing
  • Assist educators in developing manufacturing career pathways and aligning current and future curriculum with the needs of manufacturers
  • Engage in frequent online engagement activities, including blogging, authoring op-eds or marketing pieces, becoming a prominent voice in social networking communities, participating in online Q and As or discussion forums, and help produce career videos
  • Attend manufacturing conferences, trade-shows, or other industry convenings and report on the latest news and developments in the industry, including new technologies, products and processes, and employment opportunities


Key Informal Learning Content

Dream It. Do It. Badge-holders show critical communications, marketing, and social skills as ambassadors of manufacturing careers.  These communications skills are aligned to national standards for effective communications, and include:

  • Speaking
    • Expresses information to individuals or groups taking into account the audience and the nature of the information (e.g., technical or controversial); speaks clearly and confidently; information is organized in a logical manner; speaks using common English conventions including proper grammar, tone and pace; tracks audience responses and reacts appropriately to those responses; effectively uses eye contact and non-verbal expression.
  • Listening
    • Receives, attends to, interprets, understands, and responds to verbal messages and other cues; picks out important information in verbal messages; understands complex instructions; appreciates feelings and concerns of verbal messages.
  • Two-way communication
    • Practices meaningful two-way communication (i.e., speaks clearly, pays close attention and seeks to understand others, listens attentively and clarifies information); attends to nonverbal cues and responds appropriately.
  • Persuasion/Influence
    • Influences others; persuasively presents thoughts and ideas; gains commitment and ensures support for proposed ideas.


A Dream It. Do It. Badge also requires significant knowledge of modern manufacturing, industry trends, required skills and competencies and how to access them, and career opportunities.  Badge-holders must be able to:

  • Articulate a true image of modern manufacturing
  • Understand key principles of technology-infusion, lean and green, automation, quality assurance, safety, and product and process improvement
  • Understand trends in technology or business operations that impact career opportunities and required skills and competencies
  • Know where students can access education pathways to jobs in manufacturing and how they can get the skills needed to be successful in their careers



A Dream It. Do It. Badge must be endorsed by a Dream It. Do It. state/regional program, or by The Manufacturing Institute.  A Dream It. Do It. Badge-holder must be validated through a recommendation from a Dream It. Do It. site, or provide ample evidence of manufacturing “ambassadorship” through a written request to The Manufacturing Institute. 


Project Lead the Way Badge


The Project Lead the Way Badge would be available to both students and educators engaged in the further development of pre-engineering skills and deeper understanding of the necessary knowledge, skills and experiences to be successful in the 21st century manufacturing workplace.


Students who earn a Project Lead the Way Badge will have scored at least 85% on Pathway to Engineering end-of-course assessments and has or is engaged in one or more of the following:

  • Gaining real-world manufacturing experience through an internship with a local manufacturer. 
  • Participating in an e-mentoring program currently in development that will virtually connect students to major employers for information sharing, networking and learning about the hiring needs, trends and requirements in the manufacturing industry.
  • Competing in a PLTW-endorsed pre-engineering design competition/ challenge such as the Spirit of Innovation Challenge, Real World Design Challenge or the RealWorld-InWorld (RWIW) NASA Engineering Design Challenge.


Educators who earn a Project Lead the Way Badge will have successfully completed PLTW’s Core Training and are focused on the continuous improvement of their craft by:

  • Engaging in PLTW Ongoing Training via the Virtual Academy that offers ongoing professional development training, online forums, communication tools, Assessment and Evaluation instructions, and technical support materials; and
  • Deepening their understanding of the concepts and work environments relative to real-world manufacturing through externships, an in-development e-mentoring platform, and/or collaboration with local manufacturers on various learning opportunities.


For students and educators who meet these requirements, an application for a Project Lead the Way Badge will be submitted to PLTW State Leaders and/or designated PLTW staff.  




The Manufacturing Institute:

NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System:

Dream It. Do It:


SkillsUSA Contest Descriptions:

Project Lead the Way:

Project Lead the Way Innovation Zone:


[1]  SkillsUSA was known as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) from 1965 until July 1999.



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