A $1.5 million Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center contract awarded to three colleges and one business means specialized leadership training for JMTC supervisors.|
St. Ambrose University, Western Illinois University, Black Hawk College, and veteran-owned Spirit Partners Inc. in Rock Island, are partners on the contract, which could last up to five years.
Brad Barry, Rock Island Arsenal JMTC director of operations, said specialized training in the "Arsenal Academy" will help JMTC be more effective.
There are about 120 supervisors at the JMTC, which employs a little more than 1,600 people, and operates the U.S. Army's only foundry.
A solicitation for bids went out in August 2010. The three colleges and Spirit Partners worked together to submit a bid, and were awarded the contract in April 2011. St. Ambrose University is the prime contractor.
Mr. Barry said JMTC wanted training that would help the supervisors better perform their duties, helping JMTC to "become an even more effective organization."
He said getting this type of leadership training for supervisors was "several years in the making."
The first group will complete training Thursday and graduate in a ceremony Friday at St. Ambrose University. There are 14 in the pilot group, but with a potential for 20 in a group.
Dr. Regina Matheson, dean of graduate and adult education at St. Ambrose, said it's not yet known exactly how many will go through the training. The start date for the next session isn't set yet.
The pilot group's 12-week, full-time training ran from Oct. 3 to Nov. 18, with a break for the holidays before restarting on Jan. 9.
She said those now in the program are "very engaged and very excited about taking what they've learned in this program and applying it" at JMTC. Student feedback will be used to modify future sessions.
Mr. Barry said the pilot group included new and experienced supervisors, but future groups will mostly consist of new supervisors, and eventually some seasoned supervisors.
The Arsenal Academy includes training on project and operations management, team building, and change management (to help lead and manage change). Training is held at various locations, and those participating take a Leadership Through People Skills course at St. Ambrose.
Fred Smith, vice president and managing partner of Spirit Partners, a consulting firm specializing in helping companies seek government contracts, said his company got involved because of its knowledge of the Arsenal.
Mr. Smith, who is retired from the Arsenal, said Spirit Partners handles about two weeks of the program.
He said the collaboration between the three colleges and Spirit Partners makes the partnership very unique.
In November, representatives from the organizations will discuss the experience at the Conference on Management, Executive, and Professional Development Programs in Florida.
Mr. Barry said the JMTC "got a better product" because all four organizations are part of the contract. "Teamwork is always better than a solitary action."
Bill Jorgesen, director of the Western Illinois University Executive Studies Center, said the organizations working together exposes students to different trainers, perspectives and techniques.
"It would be difficult for any one group to do it all," he said.
"Doing it together was such a brilliant idea" said Julie Gelaude, director of the Black Hawk College Business Training Center. "There's so much more the customer got from us working together."
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