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Real-life training, strong curriculum and proven partnerships help University Health Lakewood Medical Center develop talent for critical healthcare positionsgroup-of-graduates-during-ceremony

Exposing students to real-life experiences and a solid curriculum are key elements of an innovative training program for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at University Health Lakewood Medical Center (formerly called Truman Medical Center Lakewood). The medical center has joined forces with the University of Central Missouri and the Full Employment Council to provide quality training for high-demand CNA positions.

“UCM has developed a strong curriculum to train and prepare CNA students for jobs at University Health Lakewood Medical Center Care Center,” said Lynette M. Wheeler, chief operating officer University Health Lakewood Medical Center. “Our students enter full-time positions well prepared to do the job immediately and know the environment they will work in. This reduces the orientation time and associated expenses, and we know the level of training accomplished. This also benefits the residents as caregivers are prepared for the level of care and support on day one.”

Clarinda Dir, UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education program manager, said the partnership helps fill the healthcare talent pool with employees who have job experience at the medical facility. 

“This partnership and others really started with the pandemic when we could not get students in facilities for clinicals unless they were employees,” Dir said. “This allows students to establish their career path resulting in a win-win for the organization and the students.”

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Earn-as-you-learn partnership offers a win-win for UCM, John Knox Village, Full Employment Council and students
Out-of-the-box thinking during pandemic results in innovative program that helps fill critical needs in healthcareGroup-photo-of-grads

 Thanks to a successful partnership involving the University of Central Missouri, John Knox Village and the Full Employment Council, adult learners have the opportunity to participate in an earn-as-you-learn program that helps fill critical healthcare needs.

 Through this collaborative effort, area certified nursing assistant (CNA) and certified medication technician (CMT) students earn their certification while working full time as health services assistants at John Knox Village. The Village pays these employee students to attend class and clinicals while also providing them with benefits. To make earning this high-demand certification even more accessible, the Full Employment Council offers scholarships for qualifying individuals.

 “This program allows us to have home-grown talent that has completed a high quality educational experience,” said  Trisha Pepper, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Village manager of recruitment/employment. “Immediately after training completion, the new CNAs hit the ground running and continue to build on those relationships with our residents.”

 This innovative partnership started during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Clarinda Dir, UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education program manager. 

“We couldn’t get students in facilities for clinicals unless they were employees, and the CNA pool was shrinking,” Dir said. “These partnerships allowed facilities to feed their talent pool thanks to out-of-the-box thinking to address these challenges.”

 So far, approximately 50 CNAs and CMTs have been trained through this partnership with the majority of the new healthcare professionals working at either the Village Care Center or Village Assisted Living. During the pandemic, UCM offered one CMT and four CNA classes in cooperation with John Knox Village and the Full Employment Council. 

 “As we all experienced early on in the pandemic, change was the constant,” Pepper said. “However, I feel like we didn’t really skip a beat. We certainly had to make some changes to our processes, but have continued to provide training”

 Both students and John Knox Village have benefited greatly from the partnership, Pepper added. Through the earn-while-you-learn program, the students progress through the John Knox Village pathway from health services assistant to CNA student to CNA fairly quickly and begin making an impact, she said. 

 “We are able to train them to use Village-approved approaches and techniques for providing care and, more importantly, we know that they are dedicated team members who have already formed relationships with the people they serve and work with,” Pepper said.

 Working with UCM has been a positive experience for both the Village and the students, Pepper added, especially with a UCM campus located in Lee’s Summit, approximately 1 mile from the retirement community.

 “It’s been a very smooth process to work with UCM and they’ve continued to be flexible to meet our needs,” she said. “The students are able to complete all components either on our JKV campus or just down the road at the state-of-the-art Missouri Innovation Campus facility.”

 “We are grateful to John Knox Village and the Full Employment Council,” Dir said. “The partnership allows students to establish a career path and is really a win-win for the organization and the student.”  

“I have worked with the Full Employment Council for over 20 years to assist with funding opportunities, supportive services and to develop the first CNA and CMT registered apprenticeship programs,” Pepper said. “UCM also has a long history of partnering with the FEC, so pulling the three organizations together made perfect sense. The partnership with UCM also has enabled the Village to reach even more individuals who want to begin a career in nursing by expanding its professional network to include the Community Services League of Independence and the Truman Heartland Community Foundation.”

Individuals interested in enrolling in the CNA or CMT certification programs may visit the UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education webpage or contact Dir at dir@ucmo.edu

The University of Central Missouri operates campus locations in Warrensburg, Online and Lee’s Summit with UCM’s Workforce and Professional Education programs housed at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. 

John Knox Village is a life plan community located in Lee’s Summit, serving about 1,200 residents on its campus and about 5,000 additional community members. The Village offers a full continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, home health and hospice. The Village Care Center provides 24-hour licensed nursing services in two long-term care units, a memory care unit, a Medicare-certified rehabilitation unit and Village House, which provides short-term, in-patient hospice care. Village Assisted Living offers 24-hour nursing care, regular housekeeping, three meals a day, planned activities and assistance with activities of daily living as well as three dedicated memory care units.

In the photo, recent CNA graduates celebrate at a recent ceremony with their instructor and John Knox Village officials. 


Missouri Innovation Campus program begins 10th year of connecting businesses to a trained workforce
Unique program benefits students by reducing college debt and accelerating time to degree completionMIC-intern-sitting-at-desk

Since its initiation in 2012, the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program has received regional and national recognition and provided a pathway for metro-area young adults to earn sought-after skills and an accelerated bachelor’s degree, leading them to high-paying careers.

As the Missouri Innovation Campus program begins its 10th year, this unique partnership is staying focused on its original goals -- reducing college costs and debt for students, accelerating the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, providing students with real-world learning experiences and developing a quality IT and engineering workforce for the Kansas City region.

“The MIC program remains to our knowledge the only workforce talent provider that allows students to receive a BS degree two years after high-school graduation and participate in a three-year, year-round internship,” said Stan Elliott, MIC director who also helped found the program. 

The program includes business and civic partners, the University of Central Missouri, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and Metropolitan Community College (MCC). Thanks to this unique partnership, the MIC re-imagines students’ college experience with a focus on rigorous and relevant coursework as well as connecting businesses to a highly trained workforce. To ensure continuing success, curriculum is reviewed every other year to keep it on the leading edge of each industry.

Students enter the MIC program as high-school juniors by taking not only courses required to graduate high school but also college credit courses that position them to also earn an associate degree from MCC just after high-school graduation. Their final two years are dedicated to completing coursework at UCM with students earning their BS degree and entering the workforce with average salaries of close to $65,000 -- all at age 20 to 21.

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(Published Aug. 9, 2021)


FAA administrator highlights Missouri Innovation Campus Aerospace Academy during tour of Lee’s Summit facility

 Steve Dickson, administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, highlighted the new Aerospace Academy, a collaborative effort involving the University of Central Missouri and Summit Technology Academy during a June 28 visit to the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC).student-talking-to-two-men-by-equipment

 “These students right here are our future,” Dickson said. “We welcome their energy and enthusiasm as they grow through their studies. This is one of the most exciting times to start lifelong learning and a career in aerospace.”

 During his tour of the MIC, Dickson heard about the Aerospace Academy, designed for both high-school and college students with a goal of enhancing the talent pipeline for a qualified workforce in this high-demand field. In addition, the FAA administrator participated in a student demonstration of aerospace equipment at the MIC.

Beginning in fall 2021, students will enter the program as high-school juniors with a focus on aviation-related fields such as avionics, aerospace engineering, aviation maintenance, aviation management, unmanned/drone pilot, professional pilot and military aviation. 

 In addition to UCM and Lee’s Summit R-7’s Summit Technology Academy, the Aerospace Academy partnership includes the Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport, the City of Lee’s Summit and a number of industry leaders such as Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Ultrax Aerospace Engineering, Aircraft Institute of Maintenance (AIM). AEA, which provides industry training, is donating aerospace equipment through its educational foundation, including an electronic flight instrument system, radio equipment, antennas, wiring, tool benches, tool sets and more. 

 UCM, which has an aviation flight program that began more than 50 years ago, is sharing expertise, connections and additional resources. UCM is also one of just a few universities with an aviation program as well as its own airport, located in  Warrensburg. 

 The Aerospace Academy is unique within the Midwest and has drawn interest from throughout the nation. Joe Mullins of UCM and Dr. Jeremy Bonnesen of Summit Technology Academy are leading the project. For more information about the new program, contact Bonnesen, jeremy.bonnesen@lsr7.net, or Mullins, jmullins@ucmo.edu.

(Published July 14, 2021 - Photo courtesy of Lee's Summit R-7 School District)


Certified Nursing Assistant program grad begins healthcare career thanks to UCM program and Full Employment Council scholarship

Clarissa Kirk, a recent graduate of UCM’s Certified Nursing Assistant program, is feawoman-wearing-scrubs-outdoorstured in a recent article and video from the Full Employment Council. Kirk, who was born deaf, encourages others to not let barriers derail their successes.

For adults considering a return to school and a new career, Kirk said, “You’re worth it. You owe it to yourselves to try. You owe it to yourself to feel satisfied. You owe it to yourself to be happy, to enjoy life. You should try something...something that makes you enjoy it. Something that makes you feel really, really good inside your soul, and just take that next step. And the FEC (Full Employment Council) will help you through it, if you try.”

The FEC helped connect Kirk to funding, which covered the cost of her tuition, as well as her uniform and supplies. After graduating from UCM’s popular Certified Nursing Assistant program, she began working as a CNA at John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit. 

Kirk had been interested in a career in healthcare for years, but as a deaf person, she worried that she might not be able to perform some related tasks such as listening to a stethoscope. She shared that her teachers at UCM, whom she described as “amazing,” helped her learn how to complete all the tasks necessary to become a CNA -- including how to use a stethoscope.

To read more about Kirk’s journey, select here.  To view a video featuring Kirk, select here. Feature article, photo and video courtesy of the Kansas City Full Employment Council. 

(Published June 28, 2021)


UCM student spotlight: Jacob Danley earns cybersecurity degree just two years after high-school graduation, begins new job at Burns & McDonnellphoto-of-jacob-danley

Within the space of a few weeks, Jacob Danley earned a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity from UCM and started a full-time job at Burns & McDonnell -- both at age 20. Jacob is among students participating in the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program, a progressive partnership that includes the University of Central Missouri, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and more than 50 industry-leading businesses.

All MIC program students participate in three-year, paid internships with Jacob interning at Burns & McDonnell and AWNIX, both MIC program business partners.

A 2019 graduate of Lee’s Summit West High School, Jacob said he was pleased with his selection of the MIC program and UCM. “The MIC program from my local school district is partnered with UCM to fulfill the junior/senior level college classes so the choice was somewhat made for me, but I was very happy at UCM.”

A favorite part of the program for Jacob is its location at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. (Missouri Innovation Campus is the name of both the accelerated degree program as well as UCM’s Lee’s Summit campus.)

“It allowed me to stay home but attend in-person classes without having to drive for an hour to the UCM campus,” he added.

After completing the MIC program, Jacob said he would recommend UCM to others, especially those with access to the MIC program or Missouri Innovation Campus facility in Lee’s Summit. 

“It allows much more flexibility in college which was necessary since I was working internships during most days, so my classes were at night,” he said. “I’m really happy that I made the decision to start in the MIC program and get my degree through UCM because the teachers are really great and the financial support UCM provides its students is amazing.”

Through the nationally recognized Missouri Innovation Campus program, students take college-ready classes from UCM and MCC along with their high-school classes beginning with their junior year of high school. Students have the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree just two years after high-school graduation. In addition, they graduate with little to no student debt, participating in three-year, year-round, paid internships with the first two years of college tuition paid. MIC degree programs are in high-wage, in-demand areas such as engineering, big data/business analytics and information technology. More than 90 percent of MIC graduates are also hired by the industry-leading businesses where they intern. 

(Published June 15, 2021)


Certified Nursing Assistant and Phlebotomy Technician graduates earn sought-after certificates from UCM
FEC offers scholarships for qualifying students entering these high-demand fields

 Graduates of the University of Central Missouri’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)-Mental Health and Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Programs were recognized May 14 at a ceremony at UCM’s Lee’s Summit campus. Through these programs, students earn industry-recognized certifications and are prepared for careers in the high-demand healthcare field.

 Thanks to a partnership with the Full Employment Council, qualifying students are eligible for scholarships for this course as well as several other workforce development programs. 

 At the graduation ceremony, students were encouraged to continue their education and advance in their careers. Additional opportunities include Sterile Processing Technician, offered by UCM, as well as pursuing LPN (licensed practical nurse) or RN (registered nurse) options through local community colleges. 

UCM offers undergraduate nursing programs which include the traditional BSN program, as well as  an online RN to BSN option. Graduate nursing programs are also online with two track options -- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Nurse Educator (NE).

 The university’s CNA courses include a general CNA certificate program as well as home health aide, a CNA course specializing in mental health and a CNA program geared toward special needs.

 Both the CNA and Phlebotomy Technician programs can be completed in approximately two to three months, depending on how many classes are offered during each week. 

 Classes are currently forming for several high-demand certificate programs with start dates and links to program descriptions included below.

Scholarships are also available for qualifying students with information at this webpage. UCM sponsors a monthly Professional Training and Education Open House through a partnership with the Full Employment Council with scholarship information also available at these events. 

(Published May 25, 2021)

CNA grads are pictured in photo at left with Phlebotomy Technicians on the right.

CNA-and-Phlebotomy-Tech-graduates


University of Central Missouri announces schedule for popular computer science online summer camps for kidsYellow-comic-monster

The University of Central Missouri is partnering with Black Rocket online learning company to offer online computer science summer camps for children from age 8 to 14. One-week sessions are available June 7 through Aug. 6 with three-hour classes offered during either the morning or afternoon. 

The computer science summer camps include topics such as video game design and animation, programming, coding and YouTube content creation. Examples of popular upcoming courses are Minecraft Animators, Roblox Makers and YouTube Content Creators, Python Programmers, Make Your First Video Game, Young Authors and eSports Apprentice-Streamers and Gamers.

The online offerings are designed to educate young people in an engaging and safe environment while also reducing isolation through interactive activities with live online teachers. For more information about UCM’s summer online computer science summer camps, select this link.  

(Published April 27, 2021)


Gov. Parson lauds Mixed Reality Studio for contributions to prepare Missouri’s workforcegovernor-speaking-at-podium-at-event

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson praised our new Mixed Reality Studio during a March 2 visit to the Missouri Innovation Campus. The governor received a first-hand view of how projects funded through the Missouri Excels (MoExcels) program are helping prepare the next generation of researchers, developers and entrepreneurs. 

UCM, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and area businesses came together for the governor’s visit to showcase the new Mixed Reality Studio as a key educational project that will help address the state’s critical need for a well-trained, technology-focused workforce. 

The Mixed Reality Studio was launched by UCM in the fall of 2020, and is part of the Gigabit Lab housed within the MIC. MoExcels, which was implemented by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, provided almost $675,000 toward the Information Technology Expansion Project that included the Studio and related UCM initiatives. All are designed to help facilitate development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs to increase educational attainment.

“I couldn’t be in a better place than to be here today,” Parson said, reflecting on his visit with individuals involved with the Missouri Innovation Campus and the Mixed Reality Studio.

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(Published March 8, 2021)


UCM to offer new online course exploring African American history through legacy of Chadwick Boseman

Eight-week online course offered for high-school students at discounted ratechadwick-boseman-as-black-panther

The University of Central Missouri will present Hidden Histories, a class designed for high-school students, March 8 through May 7. The online course will dive into African American history by exploring the legacy of the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

The engaging and experiential class showcases eight films starring Boseman including his portrayal of Jackie Robinson in “42,” James Brown in “Get on Up” and Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” as well as the box office hit “Black Panther.” Students will have an entire week to watch each film and then share their responses through an online discussion board. An added feature to Hidden Histories will be a guest lecture by UCM alum Dr. Jesse Adolph of Perimeter College discussing the Black Panther comic series.

Offered by the UCM History Program, the course provides three hours of college credit. Hidden Histories is discounted at $89.90 per credit hour for high-school students. Since UCM is a regionally accredited institution, Hidden Histories will transfer to the majority of United States universities. 

To enroll, contact the UCM Dual Credit Office at 816-543-4876 and tell them you are a “Visiting High School Student” wanting to enroll in HIST 2000. The course is taught by Dr. Delia Gillis, UCM professor of history and Africana studies. For more information, contact her at dgillis@ucmo.edu

(Published Feb. 17, 2021)


International MOU signing celebrates partnership involving UCM and South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc in education and workforce development

Representatives from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) and the Government of Makueni County-Kenya, a member of the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB), and Global Classroom Exchange (GCE) celebrated a unique international partnership at a Jan. 8 virtual event. The early morning Zoom session included representatives from the university, Government of Makueni County-Kenya, the Economic Bloc and Global Classroom Exchange.

Officials signing the partnership’s memorandum of understanding were the governor of Makueni County, Hon. Professor Kivutha Kibwana; Dr. Phil Bridgmon, UCM provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Laurel Hogue, vice provost for UCM Extended Studies; and John Musau, founder and CEO of Global Classroom Exchange. To view the MOU signing, visit this webpage.

“From our experience when we came to the university, the focus is really on the students,” said Kibwana during the virtual signing. “Even more exciting is creating this new nuance in education, this virtual education.”

Critical aspects of the partnership include leveraging technology to enhance academic learning, developing career pathways with joint workforce programs for global markets and establishing dual credit and concurrent programs with Makueni County-Kenya, Hogue said. “Today is the result of a lot of work and collaboration, and we are really excited about the work ahead,” she added.

The initiative is resulting in meaningful collaboration and project-based learning, Musau said. “We talk about having borders, and we talk about creating opportunities and sometimes those two don’t go hand-in-hand. I feel this is one opportunity for us to make a difference.”

Also attending the ceremony was Rick MDowell of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. “Workforce is a major initiative for Lee’s Summit and the regional area in Kansas City,” he said. “Now we see this as throughout the world as a major initiative.”

Through the partnership, UCM Extended Studies will work with the university’s Kenyan peers on education and workforce development. The partners are leveraging technology to foster global collaboration in resolving local challenges. The organizations are working together to develop real-world sustainable solutions for students and adults. Students will also gain hands-on experiences in areas such as Internet of Things, virtual reality, telehealth and entrepreneurship -- just to name a few -- while working on industry-recognized certifications and accelerated degree programs.

“This is an important engagement in workforce development that will provide career pathways in an area that is growing and emerging,” said Dr. Phil Bridgmon, UCM provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The partnership’s foundation began in 2019 with Summit Technology Academy (Lee’s Summit R-7 School District) meeting virtually with students in Kenya to become acquainted and begin planning their combined efforts. During fall 2019, Kenya Governor Kivutha Kibwana and a delegation from Kenya visited Lee’s Summit to tour the Missouri Innovation Campus and meet with officials from UCM and Summit Technology Academy.

This new partnership has benefitted from the involvement of Digloso Ltd, a company focusing on providing emerging populations with technological infrastructure and modular application platforms. Digloso is headquartered in Kenya.

Business, individuals and organizations have the opportunity to collaborate in the project, which is actively seeking partners to help with solutions. For more information, contact Joe Mullins at jmullins@ucmo.edu or Dr. Laurel Hogue at lhogue@ucmo.edu

(Published Jan. 12, 2021)


UCM-Greater KC Writing Project awarded $2.3 million to advance literacy skills for kids and teensyoung-adult-students-at-workshop

The Greater Kansas City Writing Project at the University of Central Missouri (UCM), was awarded over $569,000 for the first year of a five year $2.3 million subgrant as part of a state-wide effort to improve literacy and ultimately the lives of Missouri children. 

Funding from the U.S. Department of Education supports Missouri’s Comprehensive Literacy State Development program. Missouri was awarded $18 million, overall, and is one of just 11 states awarded funding through this grant program.  The federal funds are earmarked for children from birth through 12th grade with grant monies being distributed over a five-year period. 

Established in 1983, the Greater Kansas City Writing Project (GKCWP) is one of nearly 200 university-based National Writing Project sites. The organization focuses on a pre-kindergarten through college community of educators and lifelong learners. The Greater Kansas City Writing Project has been housed at UCM since 2016, supporting the education outreach work of the university’s Extended Studies. 

The Writing Project’s mission is to enhance student achievement by improving the teaching of writing. Working in partnership with institutions, organizations and the community, the Greater Kansas City Writing Project seeks to develop and sustain leadership for educational improvement.

The Missouri Comprehensive Literacy State Development program was formed to complement the state’s commitment to literacy for students under the agency’s Show-Me Success plan. The goal of the project is to support educators’ working knowledge of evidence-based literacy strategies to effectively teach reading and writing to all students. This includes providing professional development to pre-service teachers in institutions of higher education, early childhood education teachers and K-12 educators to enable them to provide effective instruction. This grant will additionally support districts with developing evidence-based literacy plans to implement in their local schools while providing support for families. 

For more information about the Greater Kansas City Writing Project, visit the webpage.

(Published Dec. 8, 2020)


UCM Lee’s Summit’s Mixed Reality Studio provides opportunities for innovation; virtual launch held Nov. 20 exterior-view-of-mixed-reallity-studio

A new Mixed Reality Studio, located at the University of Central Missouri’s (UCM) Lee’s Summit campus, made its debut to the community during a Nov. 20 Virtual Sneak Peek. The approximately 60-minute preview is available at this link.

During the launch event, co-hosted by Velocity Lee’s Summit, presenters talked about the equipment available at the new studio, shared examples of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) potential projects and discussed the future of this growing technology. Presenters included Joe Mullins of UCM, Jeff Danley of VMLY&R and Ashley Smithson of Velocity.

“The Lee’s Summit studio is one of the most advanced mixed reality labs I’ve ever seen,” said Danley. “The opportunity to innovate with these technologies is tremendous for students and entrepreneurs in our area.”

“The Mixed Reality Studio aims to advance state-of-the-art technology in VR and AR by developing new applications and educating the next generation of researchers, developers, entrepreneurs and technologists while collaborating with industry,” Mullins said.

At this flexible space, students, instructors and industry innovators will be able to explore cutting-edge immersive technologies as they create, develop and deploy new applications, products and services.

The facility is equipped with various software and design platforms, multiple headset configurations, workstations, filming and graphic resources. Equipment available includes Dell workstations, HTC Vive VR headsets, Oculus Quest headsets, Microsoft HoloLens2, Magic Leap 2 glasses, HTC Vive Trackers and Lightform LF2 with New HP Reverb GT to be installed soon.

The Mixed Reality Studio was made possible by MoExcels funding, a Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD) initiative to facilitate development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs to substantially increase educational attainment. 

For more information about the Gigabit Lab and Mixed Reality Studio, contact Joe Mullins of UCM at jmullins@ucmo.edu or (816) 441-2861. For information about partnering with Velocity Lee’s Summit to access the Mixed Reality Studio, contact Ashley Smithson, info@velocity.org. Anyone interested in visiting the Mixed Reality Studio for a one-one-one or small-group socially distanced tour may contact Mullins.

(Published Nov. 23, 2020)


UCM Lee’s Summit offers Virtual Sneak Peek of new Mixed Reality Studio at Nov. 20 event 
Launch will provide preview of studio’s virtual reality and augmented reality technology capabilitiesgraphic-image-about-event

The University of Central Missouri will launch its new Mixed Reality Studio at a Virtual Sneak Peek from 10 to 11 a.m. Nov. 20. The studio is part of UCM’s Gigabit Lab and is located at the university’s Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit.

The Virtual Sneak Peek is among a number of special events planned throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The preview, co-hosted by Lee’s Summit Velocity, will be offered at this link.    

The Mixed Reality Studio aims to advance state-of-the-art technology in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) by developing new applications and educating the next generation of researchers, developers, entrepreneurs and technologists while collaborating with industry.

The Lee’s Summit studio provides access to leading edge devices, educational programs and industry through leadership that will educate and inspire the next generation of innovation in the areas of augmented reality and virtual reality.  Access to the studio will help students, faculty and industry innovators to create, develop and deploy new applications, products and services.

The Mixed Reality Studio was made possible by MoExcels funding, a Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD) initiative to facilitate development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs to substantially increase educational attainment. 

For more information about the Gigabit Lab and Mixed Reality Studio, contact Joe Mullins of UCM at jmullins@ucmo.edu or (816) 441-2861. You can also read more about the studio by selecting this link.

(Published Nov. 12, 2020)


UCM Lee’s Summit and Urban TEC to host Technology, College and Career Virtual Event Dec. 11

Slide-with-details-about-eventNOTE: This event was originally scheduled for Dec. 4 and has been moved to Dec. 11.

The University of Central Missouri (UCM) Gigabit Lab is joining forces with Urban TEC to host the Technology, College and Career Virtual Event from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Additional sponsors include CISCO, Truman Medical Center University Health and Microsoft. 

The event is designed to expose, educate and engage students from 15-18, with technology to bridge the digital literacy divide and to encourage their pursuit of STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics - careers through hands-on experiences and workshops.

Middle and high school students from throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area are invited to attend for a  unique experience. The deadline for registration is Dec. 10, and participants may sign up at urbantec.org.

 The UCM Gigabit Lab is designed for growth-oriented companies and innovators and helps them develop products designed primarily in the education, cyber and healthcare vertical. The focus is on education, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, workforce and healthcare applications that can be deployed to students and teachers in K-12 grades and UCM degree and certificate programs.

For more information, visit urbantec.org or contact Ina P. Montgomery, M.Ed., founder and executive director of Urban TEC, at kcbitgathering@gmail.com or (816) 533-5693.

(Published Nov. 11, 2020 / Updated Dec. 7, 2020)


Announcing the opening of Mixed Reality Studio at Missouri Innovation Campus

The University of Central Missouri is launching the Mixed Reality Studio, part of its Gigabit Lab, during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. The studio aims to advance state-of-the-art technology in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) by developing new applications and educating the next generation of researchers, developers, entrepreneurs and technologists while collaborating with industry.three-people-with-VR-headsets

The Mixed Reality Studio provides access to leading edge devices, educational programs and industry through leadership that will educate and inspire the next generation of innovation in the areas of augmented reality and virtual reality.  Access to the studio will help students, faculty and industry innovators to create, develop and deploy mixed reality experiences. The studio is located at our Lee’s Summit campus, housed within the Missouri Innovation Campus.

According to Joe Mullins, UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education, the new studio will help participants from a variety of fields to explore this technology, take advantage of experiential learning and research opportunities and develop new applications, products and services.

The Mixed Reality Studio was made possible by MoExcels funding, a Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD) initiative to facilitate development and expansion of employer-driven education and training programs to substantially increase educational attainment. 

For more information about the Gigabit Lab and Mixed Reality Studio, contact Joe Mullins of UCM at jmullins@ucmo.edu or (816) 441-2861. You can also read more about the studio by selecting this link.


UCM starts development of future partnership with South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc in education and workforce development

Thanks to a virtual project involving Lee’s Summit area students working with students and officials from Kenya, an international partnership is launching this fall. The partnership under development includes UCM, the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB), Makueni Innovation Centre, Eastern Kenya Integrated College and Digloso Ltd.kenya-governor-at-MIC

During a recent video conference, representatives from UCM, SEKEB, Makueni County Government (who run the Innovation Centre), Digloso Ltd., Eastern Kenya Integrated College and Summit Technology Academy participated in presentations and discussions regarding the potential partnership’s next steps. 

“This unique collaborative effort will allow UCM Extended Studies to work with the university’s Kenyan peers on education and workforce program development,” said Joe Mullins, UCM Workforce and Professional Education and the chief development person for the partnership. 

Through the project, partners will leverage technology to foster global collaboration in resolving local challenges. The partners will work together to develop real-world sustainable solutions for students and adults. Students will also gain hands-on experiences in areas such as Internet of Things, virtual reality, telehealth and entrepreneurship -- just to name a few -- while working on industry-recognized certifications and accelerated degree programs.

In the photo, Governor Kivutha Kibwana of Kenya tours the Missouri Innovation Campus during fall 2019. Read an expanded article on this topic by selecting this link.


UCM, Summit Technology Academy discuss new Aerospace Academy partnership with Lee’s Summit City Council 
Program to begin fall 2021 to provide career pathway for students interested in aviation-related fields

Lee’s Summit City Council members heard an update on the Missouri Innovation Campus Aerospace Academy, a partnership involving the University of Central Missouri (UCM) and Summit Technology Academy. During an Aug. 18 meeting, council members heard from Bob Hartnett of Lee’s Summit Public Works, Dr. Jeremy Bonnesen of Summit Technology Academy, Joe Mullins of UCM, Mike Adamson of Aircraft Electronics Association and Dr. David Buck, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent.two-men-at-MIC

The collaboration has made significant progress since the formation of the Aerospace Academy Advisory Board during August 2019. The group of industry experts and regional stakeholders includes representatives from the Aircraft Electronics Association and ULTRAX Aerospace -- both headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Duncan Aviation and Garmin as well as officials from the City of Lee’s Summit and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. Bonnesen and Mullins are leading the project for UCM and Summit Technology Academy.

During the city meeting, Aerospace Academy officials discussed the need for a program leading to jobs in this high-wage, high-demand field. Following the presentation, Mayor Bill Baird and several council members expressed their support for the new program.

Beginning in fall 2021, students will enter the program as high-school juniors with a focus on aviation-related fields such as avionics, aerospace engineering, aviation maintenance, unmanned/drone pilot, professional pilot and military aviation. The program is designed for both high-school and college students with a goal of enhancing the talent pipeline for a qualified workforce.

The Aerospace Academy is unique within the Midwest, said Mullins during the City Council meeting. “Our next steps are to continue to meet with our Advisory Board, to finalize the curriculum with industry and faculty input and ensure that the program is relevant to students,” he said. 

The program has involved both the City of Lee’s Summit as well as Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council since its formation. The Aerospace Academy will operate out of the Missouri Innovation Campus, which houses UCM’s Lee’s Summit campus and Summit Technology Academy.

The University of Central Missouri is one of just a few universities with an aviation program as well as its own airport, located at the Warrensburg campus. The City of Lee’s Summit also operates a municipal airport.

For more information about the new program, contact Bonnesen, jeremy.bonnesen@lsr7.net, or Mullins, jmullins@ucmo.edu. Mullins (at left) and Bonnesen are pictured above.

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