Automation Federation leader to present at 2016 Project Lead The Way Summit on the value of competency models in guiding young people to STEM careers

  • March 10, 2016
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Presentation, titled “Applying Competency Models as a Pathway to STEM,” will be delivered at 11 a.m. on Monday, 21 March in Indianapolis, Indiana USA

Stephen Huffman, the Chairman of the Automation Federation’s Government Relations Committee, will deliver a presentation to a nationwide assembly of K-12 STEM educators later this month that shows how competency models can help young people secure rewarding careers in automation, industrial cybersecurity and engineering.

Huffman will explain how manufacturing and professional associations are aligning their workforce development initiatives and community colleges are basing their curricula and degree programs on the Automation Competency Model (ACM), which the Automation Federation developed in collaboration with the US Department of Labor. The ACM outlines the specific personal, academic, workplace, and technical competencies required to succeed in an automation career.

“The ACM is a valuable tool for all stakeholders—young people seeking meaningful career fields, educators looking to develop highly applicable coursework, guidance counselors, manufacturing companies pursuing trained workers, governments and more,” says Huffman, the Vice President, Marketing & Business Development at Mead O'Brien, Inc. “It’s important that PLTW educators and other leaders centered on STEM learning realize that this significant competency model—and others on cybersecurity and engineering that the Automation Federation is working in partnership to develop—is available to them.”

The Automation Federation and its 16-member organizations are committed to advancing the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and developing a new generation of advanced manufacturing professionals. PLTW, the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs, is an Automation Federation member.

In less than two weeks, 20-23 March, PLTW will conduct its annual gathering in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 2016 Project Lead The Way Summit is expected to attract approximately 1,600 US students, educators, school administrators, business and community leaders, non-profit organizations, and government officials. Attendees will be taking a hard look at what works and what doesn’t when it comes to boosting student interest in STEM subjects and career fields.

Competency models—collections of competencies that together define successful performance in a defined work setting—are examples of tools that work, Huffman says. They’re becoming increasingly popular, he points out, as ways to:

  • Define specific professions and career fields
  • Assist students and job-seekers research, select and pursue specific professions and career fields
  • Guide educators and school administrators in developing courses and degree programs that deliver strong employment prospects

In 2012, the Automation Federation worked with the American Association of Community Colleges to establish the US Automation Community College Consortium. The member colleges that comprise the Consortium use the ACM as the framework for developing automation curricula leading to two-year degree programs in specific automation arenas, and an educational track toward four-year degree programs in automation, engineering and technology.

“Establishing competency-based educational and degree programs in automation will increase the number of young people trained to compete in today’s high-tech workplace,” Huffman says. “The benefits are innumerable. Manufacturers will be able to hire the talent they need to grow and succeed across the world; the long-term health of global economies will improve; and young people will gain meaningful, well-paying career pathways.”

Increasing the supply of workers qualified and prepared to compete for high-tech jobs in automation and engineering is perhaps the most pressing challenge facing manufacturers worldwide. Experts project that over the next 10 years nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs in the US alone will be needed. However, because of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers, up to 2 million of these jobs may go unfilled.

Today, six out of 10 production jobs remain open because of the talent shortage, according to a recent study by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte.

To register to attend the 2016 Project Lead The Way Summit, which will take place 20-23 March at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis, click here.

More about the presenter

Stephen R. Huffman is Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at Mead O’Brien Inc. and Chairman of the Government Relations Committee at the Automation Federation.

At Mead O’Brien, Huffman directs corporate marketing and business development responsibilities, across several key vertical market segments, for the 10-state multi-branch provider of process and power industries-related engineered products and services.

He has more than 40 years of experience optimizing process systems, overseeing new application development, and providing technical education. Huffman is an active volunteer leader in technical societies dedicated to promoting the automation profession in process and manufacturing environments.

He served as 2007 President of the International Society of Automation (ISA), which founded the Automation Federation. Huffman plays a key role in the development, direction and initiatives of the Automation Federation, having served two years as Chairman and currently serving his eighth term as Government Relations Chair.

He also was the 2004-2006 President of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA), District St. Louis, and is again serving in that position during 2016. He can be reached at

About the Automation Federation 

The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of twenty (20) member organizations and seven working groups engaged in automation activities. The Automation Federation enables its members to more effectively fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation. The Automation Federation is the "Voice of Automation." For more information about the Automation Federation, visit