Q&A with Jennifer Cochran

Director of Education American Gear Manufacturers Association

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to join the AGMA.
I’d be glad to. I attended George Mason University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in international studies. Upon completing my undergraduate work I spent the next 12 years in the technology sector, where I held positions in business analysis, customer service, and implementation management, all of which contained a training development component. In an effort to expand on my practical training experience I returned to George Mason University to earn a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction with a focus on instructional technology. One of my projects in graduate school involved developing prototype e-learning materials for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which I enjoyed a great deal. I’ve always had an interest in education, technology, and communications. Early this year I learned about this position with the AGMA through a friend, and when I interviewed and met everyone I realized what a great opportunity this was. I joined the association in February, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about this industry and how we can support it through our education offerings.
Could you give us an overview of your responsibilities, and the improvements being made to the AGMA’s training and education programs? 
One of the things I’ve been working on is improving and expanding our online training courses. We want to make sure our training modules are as accessible and pertinent as possible. We currently offer three courses online—Fundamentals of Gearing, Gear Inspection, and Hobbing—which together represent our Online Workforce Education Program. Fundamentals of Gearing is a prerequisite for all of the other online courses. This course provides a great basic understanding of gearing. Gear Inspection allows students to learn about different methods, including when to use each and how to read and understand the resulting data. Hobbing is the newest addition to our online learning suite. All three modules have self-guided curriculum, study guides, pretests, and certification tests that show the learner has successfully completed the module.
I’m also involved in overseeing our longstanding basic and advanced engineering course offerings taught by industry experts at sites around the country, including our Basic Gear School presented by AGMA instructors at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago. The college has recently invested in upgrading and adding to their manufacturing training facility, and in turn AGMA has invested in adding to the equipment that we provide for hands-on gear cutting performed by participants as part of our Basic Course. The AGMA Advanced Engineering Program includes Gearbox CSI, Gear Design, Inspection, Materials, and Gear Failure Analysis, and these seminars are taught at locations around the county. They are so well-attended that we are seeking professional engineers and others who are interested in sharing their industry knowledge with our up-and-coming industry professionals.
How do you go about identifying new course subjects to make sure your offerings address the industry’s changing needs?
I work with our Education Council, which is made up of executive-level members who evaluate the state of the gear-manufacturing industry and the training needs facing our members, so we’re always thinking strategically in terms of identifying potential courses. Additionally, we collaborate with experts and organizations related to the gearing industry. We’ve worked with a number of organizations over the years, such as the American Bearing Manufacturers Association, the American Wind Energy Association, or AWEA, and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as a consortium of metalworking associations to leverage our collective education and workforce development reach. All manufacturing organizations have a shared interest in workforce development, from interesting young students in modern manufacturing to employee recruitment and retention. We’re always working to make sure our educational offerings are accessible, informative, and constantly evolving to address the needs of the gear-manufacturing industry we serve.
MORE INFO: Contact Jennifer Cochran at (703) 684-0211 or cochran@agma.org. Go online to [www.agma.org].