159: How Career & Technical Education (CTE) is Impacting Smart Manufacturing with Kent Powell of Amatrol

Whether it’s on the job or in a traditional academic setting, education is essential to building a strong manufacturing function. 

But this episode of Manufacturing Happy Hour focuses on one specific aspect of learning – career and technical education (CTE) – and explores how it’s helping teams make better decisions and better products. 

Amatrol’s career and technical training solutions are used in all 50 U.S. states and in 50+ countries, so we invited Kent Powell, their VP of Sales and Marketing, onto the show to let us in on some of their secrets. 

Kent shares how Amatrol became a leader in their field, his thoughts and observations on smart manufacturing and why Louisville is a hub for education and employment.

Plus, he explains how the Kentucky FAME program is helping students get into manufacturing roles in just two years, debt-free.  


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. Amatrol train manufacturing professionals by introducing a concept, teaching the theory and allowing professionals to apply their learnings.  
  2. 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years. 
  3. Communication is foundational to success in a manufacturing environment. 

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “By using smart sensors, as opposed to on-off switches, we’re able to collect more information, make better decisions in record speed, and make a better product in a short amount of time.” 
  • “Kentucky FAME is a great work-and-learn program. They pay you to work, pay you to go to school. You wind up with a two-year degree. You could have a job in two years and have no debt.”  
  • “We’re nothing without the success of our clients. If they’re successful, we’re successful.” 

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn. 

This episode is part of the MADE HERE City Series, created in partnership with ISN, the Industrial Solutions Network. In these episodes, we’re exploring what makes a city’s manufacturing community so special. This series not only features full podcast interviews with manufacturing leaders, but behind-the-scenes tours of some of the region’s most iconic and important industrial operations. Check out our first mini-series in Louisville, KY today. 

3M’s Clash of the Grinders: Student Edition is a high-stakes grinding and welding competition that pits soon to be pros against each other to find the next best in the skilled trades. 3M is committed to skilled trade education with a goal of creating 5 million skilled trades and STEM learning experiences designed to inspire curiosity, improve educational outcomes, and provide transformational opportunities for underrepresented individuals. Make sure to subscribe to the 3M Abrasives YouTube channel to catch Clash of the Grinders today. 

What We Discuss with Kent 

  • His background in aerospace 
  • How Amatrol became a leader in career and technical education 
  • What manufacturing teams need to know most 
  • His insights into smart manufacturing 
  • How to decide what to train staff on next 
  • What manufacturing means to Louisville 
  • How the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing (FAME) is impacting the industry 

Recommended Resources

  • Amatrol, the global leader in online career & technical education (CTE) 
  • Kentucky FAME, the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) is a partnership of regional manufacturers whose purpose is to implement career pathway, apprenticeship-style educational programs that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers 
  • Amount of Data Created Daily (2023) 
  • The Brown, a historic hotel in Louisville, KY known for its fine Kentucky bourbon & iconic destination; home of the “Hot Brown” and – according to Kent – one of the best Rye Manhattans in the city 

Connect with Kent and Amatrol

LinkedIn | Kent on LinkedIn