b2ap3 large NCAMA icon for Perspectives CopyCoherent Marketing has been assisting the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance for the past few months with their branding and helping them establish their communications infrastructure.  The alliance's website made a significant leap forward at the end of August, with the addition of most of the content to the site.

The alliance is an ambitious initiative using $18 million in DOL funding to significantly upgrade the quality of training for the advanced manufacturing industry in North Carolina.  It comprises 10 community colleges offering a range of certificate, diploma, and associate degrees aimed at producing graduates who can be hired by companies using advanced manufacturing for their products.  The website acts as an important bridging tool for the 10 community colleges, which are scattered statewide across North Carolina, as well as a powerful marketing tool for the state and a recruiting site to students interested in a career in advanced manufacturing.

A significant proportion of the funding for the initiative is going to upgrade equipment on which students will train, such as computer numerically controlled machine tools and mechatronics and robotic equipment.  But beyond the equipment, which now matches what is found in industry, is a new learning model that includes hybrid and online coursework so that students can complete much of the training at home at times suitable to their schedules.  With many students working full time, the ability to get online after work is a gateway to upgrading skills.  The colleges are also partnering with Apple and coursework will be housed on iTunes U. 

Apart from startup branding assistance that included developing of a variety of templates for letterheads, power points and display materials to be shared statewide by the 10 colleges, Coherent Marketing developed a sophisticated site using the open source Joomla content management system.  The fully multimedia site provides each college with the capability of editing their own section of the site without impinging on other colleges, calendaring, and a news and updates section with built-in functionality for sharing, RSS and social media.  This part of the site provides all of the colleges with the ability to post news about developments in their programs, latest coursework, uploads to iTunes U, student success stories and other developments - all on a common platform.  Automatic notifications and easy email subscriptions mean that all colleges can remain apprised of developments within the initiative, but more importantly, federal grant funding principals can stay up to date with the progress of the grant and whether colleges are hitting their milestones.

Other features of the site include a built-in, browser-based video-conferencing functionality for instant web-conferencing between alliance members, storage in the cloud for large files that can't be sent by email, image galleries, and an FAQ section visible after logging in for less tech-savvy administrators on how to more effectively use the site.

The site is also a powerful marketing tool for economic developers in the state seeking to attract and grow advanced manufacturing industry.  Retrained former manufacturing workers are finding employment as technicians in biomanufacturing, nanotechnology, aerospace and in more conventional goods using advanced manufacturing.  The site is also seeing increasing use by people considering a career shift into advanced manufacturing who are seeking information about coursework and employment prospects.

While there are still some pages with filler 'lorem ipsum' text, more than 60 pages of content on the site are complete and attracting traffic.  The remainder should be completed within the next few weeks.

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