FUSE – Update #1 for the Tribe

For all of you who met with me, thank you. For the rest of you, I am Fremont’s first FUSE Fellow working to create an “HR pipeline for advanced manufacturing”. Here is a bit more about me.

This is the beginning of a regular communication to the “tribe” of stakeholders, partners, and enthusiasts of both education and manufacturing who have expressed interest in this endeavor, and whose support I will rely on as we pursue this initiative.

To get started, I am on a 6 to 8 week listening tour to meet people in the community to understand the real scope of this project, learn what companies are looking for and understand what terms such as “making” and “Advanced manufacturing” mean in Fremont. This week I had 14 new meetings with teachers, instructional coaches, librarians, two principals, community members and the primary funder behind Remake Learning Pittsburgh. It was very, well, educational.

Some of the highlights for me were:

  • The complete data center that Hector Albizo has created in his classroom at Irvington high school. With MVROP and an industry partner, he’s modeled a wide area network with nodes named New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo on which students can practice the cyber security concepts they learn in his class.  This model of engaging in industry partner might be something to scale.
  • The doomsday (zombie apocalypse) machines that Jess Norling’s students at Thornton Junior High create using VEX robotics parts. The challenge is to create a machine that will convert wind energy into circular motion to grind wheat and linear motion to pump water and to saw wood. Kudos to the group that figured out how to do all this and to move the machine on tank treads.
  • The atmospheric sensors that Tommie Ebanez’s Junior High class has created to mount on drones and weather balloons.  They are currently brainstorming how to mount on a drone so that the propeller wash won’t change the readings.
  • Accompanying Brian Weems on his “see and be seen” walking tour at class change at Walters Jr High.  It might have something to do with his Army service, but there was not a single student to be seen anywhere at the tardy bell.
  • Seeing the poetry gluing table in Tanaz Sutaria’s Library at Gomes.  This is a very low threshold activity for making things, but the excitement she sees in the students has her brainstorming even more ideas.
  • Learning about the middle school task force from Brian Weems and Stan Hicks.  It sounds like this is a model that engaged parent, teacher and administrator stakeholders, found best practices through six site visits and then made recommendations that are gradually being implemented.  A process to learn from?
  • Learning more about Remake Learning Pittsburgh from Gregg Behr of the Grable foundation.From a small start of 7 people at pancake breakfasts 10 years ago, Remake Learning is now a umbrella helping 533 organizations across 30 counties connect students with hands-on learning experience that cultivate creativity, imagination and grit. I think there’s lots to learn from this model.
  • Seeing Lam Research, Evolv and Asteelflash on Manufacturing Day in Fremont. I’ve seen automobile and aircraft factories, but I’d never seen anything like the component placement line at Asteelflash or the hair replacement machines Evolv is building. Those were utterly fascinating.

My takeaways:

First, as expected, there are already models that are working well for which we could provide resources and expand.  These include industry partnerships like those in MVROP as well as nonprofits that provide models.

Second, anything we do will be much more likely to succeed (and last beyond my short tenure) with a widespread coalition behind it. The coalition will need to include parents, teachers, staff, administrators, companies and other members of the community.

Third, despite common themes, there’s no clear definition on “making”, “advanced manufacturing” and other similar words. I think we need to create a glossary so we can all feel comfortable with the language.

Next week includes meetings with MVROP, AC Library, educators and more. In particular, I’m looking for people who can help me understand the skills, knowledge and habits businesses are looking for a new hires.  With whom should I speak? Please keep the ideas coming to pthomas@fremont.gov and spread the word!

Thank you,


Originally published on November 13, 2017

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