15 Predictions for 2022: Tech Trends To Have On Your Radar

Matt Kirchner, Host of The TechEd Podcast


Welcome back to the TechEd podcast. You know, one of my favorite topics that we talk about with our guests…and we’ve had some amazing guests this year – Chairmen, CEOs of huge manufacturing companies, other large corporations, Fortune 500 companies, we’ve talked to people who are leading in education and technical education, university chancellors, college presidents, superintendents, all kinds of interesting people forming public policy. One of my favorite questions that we asked these folks, is, when we ask them to predict the future. When we ask them to think about what the future holds for industry, when we ask them to think about what the future holds, for technical education. I think many of you know that I write regular magazine columns for Gardner Media. And some of the most popular columns that we write are the ones when we predict the future. 


You know, Abraham Lincoln had a really, really interesting quote about the future. Abraham Lincoln, an individual probably doesn’t get enough credit these days for the way that he formed the history and the present here in the United States and around the globe. But he had this quote, he said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” And here at The TechEd Podcast, I think we do both we predict the future – we think about what is yet to come – and then we talk to people who are actively creating the future. 


As we think about here, this last week of December of 2021. The last week of the year is always one of my favorite weeks of the year, Christmas is over. I’m a huge Christmas fan. But whether you celebrate Christmas or celebrate the holidays, however you celebrate that week between Christmas and New Year’s, that final week of the year where we reflect on what happened over the course of the year news shows tell us what happened. They highlight people who may be passed away major events of the year, some we remember some we’ve already forgotten about. And then in those final days of the week, they turn their sights to predicting next year. That is what we are going to do today on The TechEd podcast, we are going to talk about what the future holds for technical education in the year 2022. We have some general predictions, two of them as a matter of fact. We have a number of predictions that are specific to technical education. And then we have a handful of them that are specific to industry, things that are happening in industry that are going to affect technical education. The discussion as always will seem a little schizophrenic, we’ll bounce around, we do that on purpose. We have a wide wide audience, people who are teachers in K-12 districts, administrators in K-12 districts, chancellors of universities, industrial employers and everything in between. But let’s get started with our predictions for 2022.


[Intro] Welcome to The TechEd Podcast where we visit with leaders who are shaping, innovating and disrupting technical education. People who are not afraid to think differently, not afraid to try something new, all with the goal of securing the American Dream for the next generation of STEM and workforce talent.

Prediction #1


The first are two general predictions. And the first one has to do with funding. If you live in the world of education, and you know that we are seeing unprecedented amounts of money coming in to education, for workforce, for technical education and beyond. I have a good friend who has been in the education world for more than 50 years working with K-12 districts, community colleges, universities and so on. The word he used was “staggering”. He said the amount of money that is coming into technical education is staggering. It’s unprecedented by historical standards. We’ve never seen anything like this. Now a lot of this money still remains to be spent as of December of 2021. School districts have only spent 10% of their available federal funding, meaning that 90% of those funds are yet to be allocated. So we know that educators will have unprecedented money to spend in 2022. 


Let’s hope a couple of things. Let’s hope that while they are looking at things like bricks and mortar, while they’re looking at things like new buildings, expanding buildings, adding instructional resources, all of which are important that they also set aside funding for cutting edge technical education, the kind of technology that inspires young people and people of all ages toward amazing careers. So our first prediction for 2022 and it isn’t a surprise is that education and workforce will have more money than ever before. 

Prediction #2


But prediction #2 is that that money will not go as far next year, as it did this year. We’re living In this world of inflation. There was an article just yesterday in the New York Times that I thought was really, really interesting. And it talked about this company called 99 Cent Fresh Pizza. If you spent time in New York City, you know that that restaurant offers 99 cent slices of cheese pizza. And that article says that it lures anyone who needs to fill up for cheap in a notoriously expensive city, from construction workers to students to late night partiers. But it also says that the pandemic and inflation have thrown the business model into what it calls an existential crisis. Now, that may be overstating the price of pizza just a little bit. But with inflation affecting everything, not just pizza boxes, and pepperoni and flour and oil, but everything in almost every market, technical education is not immune. Prices are increasing, that dollars will not go as far next year as they did this year. And as a result of that, as we think about our budgets, we need to be aware of the fact that prices are going to go up. And we need to allocate that money in a way that anticipates inflation. This inflation by the way, is not transitory, we heard that from the Federal Reserve earlier this year, turns out that it’s going to be with us for a while. None of us know how long but it will affect technical education. In one of our businesses that services tech ed, we’ve seen prices increase as much as 20%. So prediction #2, inflation is going to be with us for a while, and it is going to affect your budget. 

Prediction #3


Now we’re turning to some predictions that circle around the world of technical education, nine of them in total, as a matter of fact. So prediction #3, is that the tech ed teacher shortage, as bad as it is today, is going to get worse in 2022. We all know that we don’t have enough technical education teachers, that problem is going to get worse. An article just last week in Mississippi Today says that in the state of Mississippi, there are 3036 certified teacher vacancies across the entire state. In the Midwest, it’s no different. Teach Iowa’s job posting system 1500 openings, according to Iowa Starting Line, and that was just last week. And the truth is that it is not going to get better. According to PBS News Hour last month, by the end of the current calendar year, according to a survey from Rand – a nonprofit nonpartisan research organization – nearly one in four teachers surveyed – think about that one in four…25% of teachers surveyed earlier this year, said that they were get this likely to quit their jobs and be out of the classroom in the coming year. 25%. Now, not all of them are going to leave teaching, we can predict things, we can say things that doesn’t mean that everybody follows through on it. But the truth is that if we have one in four of our teachers that are thinking about leaving the classroom, that problem we have in finding technical education teachers is going to get worse, not better. And it’s not getting better specifically, in technical education. In my home state of Wisconsin, we see graduation numbers from our technical education teaching programs. So those programs at the university level that are preparing individuals to teach technical education primarily in K-12 classrooms. The numbers of students graduating from that program is not anywhere near what we need to fill the open positions. In fact, it could be 20 times higher than it is and we still wouldn’t fill all of the open positions. So this teacher shortage is bad. Now it is getting worse. What do we do about it? Another article last week, this one in BBC quoted a teacher, in this case, a music teacher from the state of Illinois named Justin Johnson. And I think Johnson sums it up just about perfectly. He said, “It’s such a multi faceted problem, that it’s going to take a lot of different angles to fix it.” Johnson is right, it is going to take a lot of different angles to fix it. Those angles are well outside the scope of our discussion of predictions for the year 2022. But suffice it to say that we need to find ways to solve this teacher shortage creative ways to do that. And because of that, I want to consider the next three predictions that in some ways will help us offset this shortage of technical education teaching talent across the United States. 

Prediction #4


Prediction #4, we are going to see continued what I call up-teching of technical education. Up-teching of technical education. Technical education is becoming more technical. We see fewer and fewer programs not that they’re completely extinct, but fewer and fewer programs that are teaching things like birdhouses, or woods, or traditional welding and traditional machining technology, not that these aren’t important, not that we can’t learn in those courses and through those exercises, industry relevant skills. But we are more and more seeing Technical Education turning to the world of connected systems of industry 4.0, the industrial internet of things smart technology, robotics, and automation. Now, I’ve had several educators tell me this year in 2021, as they look at investments in these types of technologies and automation, robotics, Industry 4.0, that they’re holding off on those investments. And when I say why are you holding off on those investments? I’ve had a couple of them tell me, well, our employers tell us they can’t even find people. They’re not thinking about automation. Now, I would like to think that our listeners here at the TechEd Podcast would see the folly in a statement like that manufacturers are automating, because they can’t find people in part. They’re not focusing on finding people at the expense of automation. And I would submit to you that any manufacturer that makes a statement like we’re not worried about automation, we’re worried about finding people is probably not going to be around in 10 years anyway, and probably isn’t worth spending a lot of time listening to…that’s a topic for another day. But the truth is, we are going to see continued up-teching in technical education. And as we continue to up-tech technical education, and because of the tech ed teacher shortage, we lead ourselves to prediction #5. 

Prediction #5


Prediction #5 is that teachers from other disciplines will continue to find their way into technical education. In other words, as technical education and technology in general becomes even more complex, a wide variety of backgrounds become applicable in the world of technical education. In the past, technical education was typically a teacher who graduated from university technical education teaching program, who entered the workforce, entered education and taught tech ed. As we decimated technical education 15 to 20 years ago, what happened? Well, who are the individuals that teach technical education today? They are people who were inspired by a teacher typically, who loved a technical education teacher while they were in high school, and aspired to have a job like that individual. And so they were inspired toward careers in technical education. As we decimated the world of tech ed, we also decimated that opportunity to inspire people toward technical education teaching careers, and so there is a shortage of these folks. But because of that teachers from other disciplines, math, physics, computer science, in some cases, even English, are finding their way into technical education. 


One of my favorite examples is a math teacher, a woman by the name of Lynn Morris, she taught for, just retired, taught for ISD 917, in southeast Minnesota, and she told me, yes, I am a math teacher. But I am not going to let my lack of understanding of technology stand in the way of my students pursuing really interesting career pathways. And she spent her time and made an investment learning about Industry 4.0 technology and proved that with the right training, and with the right amount of focus, we can take any teacher and make them a great technical education teacher. Now I know that offends probably some of our traditional tech ed teachers, and if I’ve offended you, my apologies, but the truth is, there aren’t enough of you. And we can’t let that be a reason that we don’t prepare the students for the next generation of the types of jobs that will exist in industry and in every sector of our economy. So prediction #5, we will see more and more teachers from other disciplines, entering the world of technical education.

Prediction #6


 And finally, prediction #6, this is under the scope of what trends, what predictions are we making because of the teacher shortage. Because of the teacher shortage, prediction #6, the do-it-yourself world of curriculum will continue to die. It’s slow death. What do we mean by that the DIY curriculum: This is the teacher, this is the instructor, this is the professor who invest their time in creating a way of teaching a competency when that way of teaching those competencies already exists. Now this practice has been dying a slow death now for for several years for a variety of reasons. Too slow of a death in my opinion, I think we need to get on with moving toward standardized ways of teaching a lot of different things in the world of technical education. But what we mean by this prediction, this do-it-yourself curriculum dying its slow death is this: we can all argue about whether it is better for a teacher to spend time inspiring young people teaching and delivering knowledge, putting them on career pathways that they wouldn’t have otherwise been on, pathways to the future that they wouldn’t have otherwise been on without those amazing teachers. We can argue about whether it’s more important for them to do that, or just spend time in their garage creating the next PLC training system, for example. And we can disagree on that, and disagree honestly about that. But the truth of the matter is that that whole disagreement is becoming irrelevant because of the teacher shortage. The question now isn’t, why would we invent curriculum learning systems that already exist? But in the days of the teacher shortage, why would we have a teacher waste a minute of time developing curriculum that already exists? I’m talking about curriculum for advanced manufacturing for automation, for industry 4.0, for computer science, for CNC, for welding, every single discipline, curriculum, learning systems for those disciplines already exist, let us not make the mistake of having our teachers reinvent that curriculum and reinvent those learning systems at the expense of our students. If we had more teachers than we needed, fine, take our time and spend our time on whatever we think we want to. But we don’t have that problem, our problem is exactly the opposite. So prediction #6 on this list, by the way of 16 total predictions is that the world of do it yourself curriculum will continue to die a slow death. Technology’s changing way too fast, and we need our teachers in front of the students inspiring their futures, not developing curriculum that already exists. 

Prediction #7


Prediction #7 is that we are going to continue to see a huge focus on industry recognized credentials, third party credentials. If you’re not familiar with that term, and I think regular listeners to The TechEd Podcast are very familiar with that term. These are credentials that are aside from traditional tech diplomas, associate degrees, university degrees, even high school diplomas that sit outside of that realm, and establish that an individual has a specific competency, has a specific experience. So these are third party credentials that students can earn, they sit for an exam, sometimes they sit for a hands-on authentic assessment, and they demonstrate that they have a competency, in this case in advanced manufacturing, but there are credentials in just about every single discipline that we can think of. Last month, the state of Ohio allocated $13.5 million to schools to earn industry creds. In fact, that was the headline that I saw was earning industry creds. I love that. In this case, of course, cred is short for credential. But cred, as we all know, can also be short for credibility. I’m quite sure while I didn’t study Latin in college that those probably go back to the same root word. Now I took a look at this word credibility, or cred, rather, in the Urban Dictionary. And by the way, if you go to the Urban Dictionary, beware, it’s certainly not necessarily rated G all the time. But this entry was in the Urban Dictionary. Cred is short for the credibility of a person. And this is what it says it is, quote, “their ability to inspire belief in others”. That’s exactly what a third party credential does. It inspires belief in others. It shows others that an individual has a skill, has an ability, has a competency, and inspires their belief that they can rely on that credential. That the individual actually has those abilities when they enter the workforce or in the case of stackable credentials, when they work on the next credential that follows the one that they just earned. 


So I talked about the state of Ohio allocating $13.5 million to schools to earn industry credentials. The lieutenant governor of that state, gentleman by the name of John Houston, said this he said, quote, “This funding will help more high school students earn in demand career credentials that lead to quality, high paying jobs without the steep cost and debt that comes with many college pathways.” I think he hits the nail on the head. Credentials lead to quality jobs, they lead to higher paying jobs. And in many cases, they can lead to those jobs without the debt that goes along with other pathways. Not that there’s anything or anything necessarily wrong with other pathways. But credentials are a great alternative for the right students and the right individuals. Houston goes on to say quote, “Career credentials are what an increasing number of businesses look for when making hiring decisions. Individual Ohioans and the Ohio economy benefit when more high school students graduate career ready.” Folks, that’s true not just for the state of Ohio, but for every state in the United States when it comes to industry recognized credentials, and it’s not just Ohio that’s pouring tremendous amounts of money into this world of third party credentials. If we look at its neighboring state, the state of Michigan, Governor Whitmer has her 60 by 30 initiative. 60% of individuals in the state of Michigan possessing a post-secondary credential by the year 2030. We see this all over the United States, this whole push toward industry recognized credentials, and that will accelerate in the year 2022. Regular listeners to this program know that I am a huge fan of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, of the Smart Automation Certification Alliance, of NOCTI and their association with FANUC and the credentials around robot operations, programming, and so on. And so let’s keep an eye on those industry recognized credentials for 2022. They will continue to be big and that is prediction #7.

Prediction #8


Prediction #8, and here is one for higher education, the university level, particularly engineering programs, we will continue to see growth in focus on hands-on learning in engineering. My wife, Renee, my business partner, Renee, the same person, she is a master’s degreed engineer, earned engineering degrees from a very well known university. And she will tell you that if she had to do it over again, she would spend two years in technical college learning technology before she went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, because it gave her or would have given her a context for what she was learning when she got into those theoretical courses. We had Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, former Lieutenant Governor, now President of Ivy Tech on The TechEd Podcast earlier this year, saying exactly the same thing, how we need to flip the model in higher education and university engineering programs, and have students learning hands-on early in their engineering pathway rather than trying to weed them out with tough courses like calculus and physics and so on. We need to inspire them by giving them hands-on experiences. 


I have a good friend who runs the automation department of a huge manufacturing company. And he has told me this, he said one of the things most lacking in engineering students as they leave four-year engineering programs, is an ability to integrate technology. He says we hire them, and this is his words, not mine, we hire them and oftentimes, they’re no good to us for the first two years we have them in the business. We have to teach them about manufacturing, we have to get them out on the manufacturing floor, we need to give them hands-on experiences with technologies like programmable logic controllers, and conveyors and variable frequency drives, and smart sensors and smart devices and all these technologies that are alive and well in manufacturing. We need to give our engineering students those types of experiences while they are on their engineering pathway. We’ll inspire more of them, we’ll have more completers, we’ll have more engineers, and they will be more career ready when they leave the world of education and enter the workforce. 

Prediction #9


So now let’s cover one more prediction. One more prediction in the world of technical education, before we move on to the discussion about technology and the industrial technologies that will become ubiquitous in 2022 in the world of tech ed. So our one final technical education prediction, this is prediction #9. I promised in the intro that we would be all over the map, and so we’re jumping from university programs to K-12 programs. In the world of K-12, and particularly high school, we will see a huge interest in increasing growth in student-run businesses that integrate cutting-edge technology, including robotics, machine vision, additive manufacturing, 3d scanning, and so on. These technologies that are becoming more and more prevalent in the world of manufacturing. And we will use these technologies to teach all aspects of an advanced manufacturing business, from ideation to design, market strategy, pricing, marketing, cash management, procurement, production, supply chain, all of these things that those in industry live and breathe day in and day out. We will be using experiential learning through student-run businesses to teach those technologies at the high school level. And like we said, those programs which historically have focused a little bit on maybe machining, maybe partnering with local manufacturers to provide services for those manufacturers, and don’t get me wrong, those programs are awesome. And those students are getting great experiences. We’re going to see a growth in those types of programs, but focusing on cutting edge technology including the ones that we just reference. So prediction #9, look for more student run businesses in the year 2022. 

Prediction #10


Now we’re gonna move on with our final six or seven predictions here, to predictions about technology and changes that are taking place in the world of industry. So, technical educators beware, there are all kinds of technologies that are changing in the world of industry, in the same way that industrial employers used to be able to use the same technologies in some cases for decades upon decades, and we could teach the same technologies for decades upon decades…that world is gone. I think most people are recognizing that and we are now in a world where technology is changing quickly, and we need to change with it. So the first prediction #10, is we’re going to see more and more interest in teaching distribution, logistics and supply chain at every level of education starting in high school and moving through the university world. According to Geek Wire, I just saw this earlier this month, Amazon just inked a lease to create a 330,000 square foot facility to house both corporate and tech jobs in areas including operations technology. It plans to add 2,000 jobs at its facility there and it has 1,000 open positions. It already employs more than 3,000 people in Austin in the world of Phoenix. Amazon is expanding its presence in Tempe just outside of Phoenix where it’s signed a lease for another 63,000 square feet, adding 550 tech and corporate jobs to the more than 5,000 people that work there. In Chicago about 80 miles from The TechEd Podcast studios, Amazon inked a new 67,000 square foot lease, plans to add 450 Tech and corporate jobs where employees already 1,000 people. Now, to be fair, these jobs aren’t just in distribution and fulfillment. They include Amazon Web Services, which of course is growing like crazy as we rely more and more on data – more on that later in this podcast. But no doubt, these also include huge expansions in the world of distribution and fulfillment. And that is going to continue. By most measures ecommerce, which has been growing at an incredible rate already ticked up by 15% or more again, in 2021. There are now whole career pathways and supply chain technology in order tracking and product identification, automated storage and retrieval systems, also called ASRS systems. We have technician programs and certifications specific to logistics and supply chain. As just one example of an institution that’s leading here, I would point to Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin under the direction of a good friend of mine, by the name of Jeff Sullivan, where they are investing heavily in training the next generation of technicians for supply chain automation. And others, both near Chippewa Valley and further away, aren’t far behind. So we will continue to see a focus especially in our technical colleges, especially in our universities on distribution, logistics and supply chain technology. But that will also infiltrate our high schools, as we prepare students for those career pathways as well. So in 2022, prediction #10, look for greater focus on distribution and logistics, and supply chain in the world of technical education.

Prediction #11


Prediction #11 for 2022 in the world of technical education: continued automation in the world of industry will drive continued interest in robotics and automation in the world of education. There’s some interesting trends happening in the world of automation. Historically, it’s been the automakers that have led automation. I’ve talked for years about an automaker that deployed 15,000 robots that can predict their own future failure in order their own replacement parts before the failure ever happened. What we’re seeing now is a flip to the majority of automation, robotics is actually taking place outside the world of auto making. And that’s for the first time in some cases ever. So let’s think about growth in automation. Outside of the world of auto making, according to the Association for Advanced Automation, commonly called A3, they’re headquartered over in Auburn Hills, Michigan, substantial purchasing increases in the world of automation, in the world of robotics are coming from, get this, the world of metals up at 6% year over year. The world of life sciences, pharmaceuticals and biomed certainly gotten tremendous attention over the course of the last 18 months with the pandemic that we’ve all been living through. The world of life sciences, pharmaceuticals and biomed up 72% year over year, food and other consumer goods up 32% year over year and other non-automotive industries up 12%. So non-automotive employers are purchasing way, way, way more robots than they ever had before. 


We saw states like Ohio leading in many cases in the world of implementing robotics training programs maybe five years ago or so. Why? Because they were seeing a ton of automation in the world of auto making. Same thing for that whole corridor down through Alabama, into Georgia. Well, this is coming to the rest of the country. We had heard people say, well, we don’t have a lot of auto making, we’re not expanding into automation. That’s no longer an excuse not to do it. If you have employers in your area that are related to metals, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, biomed, consumer goods, food, your employers are automating. Like we said, we can’t just look at this, as we can’t even find people we can’t automate, we need to find people who know how to automate that is, in many ways, a big part of the solution to the shortage of skilled talent in the world of manufacturing. So we will continue to see investments in automation. And we will continue to see educators finding ways to teach not just robotics, but even more advanced systems. And we’re going to talk about that in prediction #12. 

Prediction #12


Prediction #12 for 2022 for technical education, still under the umbrella of industrial innovation, is machine vision. If that’s not a term you’re familiar with, it’s a term you need to become familiar with if you’re working in the world of technical education. Let me explain why this is important. You know, when I worked in the world of metal finishing, metal plating, painting, powder coating, I ran the largest contract metal finisher in the United States for a little bit over a decade. In that business, we had people we called machine tenders. Those people would take production parts out of a container, and they would hang them on a hook on a production line. And you would look at that job today and say, with a shortage of skilled talent, why aren’t we automating that job, and then taking that individual and putting them to work somewhere else in the business where we have a shortage? And the answer to that has always been…look at how difficult it is to find that part in the box, line it up at exactly the right spot on the rack, because the racks aren’t always exactly in the same XYZ Cartesian coordinate area every single time. So they’re not always in exactly the same spot, the hook on the rack not always in exactly the same spot every time. And so it was really challenging for an individual to find that part and put it on the right hook, challenging for an individual let alone a robot that couldn’t see, a robot that was just looking for a coordinate in space. And if the hook wasn’t there, then the part couldn’t be hung. 


Here’s why machine vision is important: machine vision allows manufacturing equipment to see – high-end cameras. And these cameras are placed at the end of a robot as an example. And they can see, they can discern between production parts, they can find a spot in space with something more than Cartesian coordinate systems. And these technologies are advancing at exponential rates. According to Quality Magazine, we’re seeing huge advancements in 3D imaging, we’re seeing way more higher resolution cameras. And the high resolution cameras are important for this reason: now we can use them in higher speed, faster speed applications. And in applications where we need even more data than we needed before. Lens technology’s advancing. We have now liquid lenses that give machine vision capabilities that we’ve never had before. So a lot of this is accelerating because of the convergence between technologies. We have convergence of, think about self driving automobiles. And so all of the vision that a self driving vehicle has to have in order to know where other vehicles are, where is the mailbox, what is a person, what is the stoplight? Being able to read all those things. So we’re seeing a convergence between advancements in markets such as that, with robotics, and as both of those technologies are advancing the sharing technology and accelerating the rate at which we can implement machine vision systems. So in the world of manufacturing, we are going to see a much bigger focus on machine vision. What does that mean for education? Much bigger focus on machine vision. Our technicians at our technical and community colleges are going to need to be familiar with this technology when they get to the world of manufacturing. Our university engineering students are going to need to be familiar with these technologies when they go to integrate them in a production process. And yes, even in our high schools, we now have students that are learning machine vision as part of high school robotics programs. That’s not the technology of the future. That’s the technology of the present.

Prediction #13


Getting close to the end of our list, we’re on prediction #13. Here’s another real fascinating prediction and another really fascinating trend in the world of industry, and that is autonomous mobile robotics. I refer to these as next-gen driverless forklifts. Now we need to create a differentiator between autonomous mobile robotics and automated guided vehicles. Those terms are sometimes used interchangeably and they shouldn’t be because they’re two different things. But six years ago, almost five and a half years ago, I took a trip to Japan. It was a trip that changed my life. And I saw a manufacturing facility where driverless trucks were picking up materials and delivering them to robots, robots putting the materials in machining centers back to the robot back to the AGV, the automated guided vehicle, the driverless fork truck that would take it to the next operation. That technology was such that it followed a specific route. We told the AGV, you’re going to start at point A, you’re going to go to point B, and this is the route that you’re going to follow from point A to point B. And the AGVs did exactly what they were told. What happens though, when we end up with a container that gets placed in their path, what happens when an individual crosses their path? What happens when they have to wait even though the next operation needs material? That creates waste and a reduction in throughput in a manufacturing environment. For that reason, we are now seeing the emergence of AMRs: autonomous mobile robots. And whereas an AGV follows a specific route, maybe a line follower, maybe it uses some other technology to follow a specific route. An AMR uses machine learning. And the AMR that version of a driverless fork truck, if you will, gets smarter and smarter and will optimize after scanning its environment and monitoring its environment and sending all that information up to an analytic, it will optimize its own route in a way that minimizes waste and maximizes efficiency. That’s the difference between autonomous mobile robots and automated guided vehicles. AMRs think for themselves. And this is a technology that will become ubiquitous in the world of manufacturing, especially advanced manufacturing. And it is a technology that we need to have our eyes on. If you’re interested in this. I would point to a fascinating company out of Kitchener Ontario, it’s a company known as OTTO Motors, O-T-T-O, that is doing some incredible work in this world of autonomous mobile robots, specifically, as it relates to bringing that technology to the world of education. And how do we teach the students the competencies they need to be successful when they get to manufacturing? So Prediction #13, keep your eye on autonomous mobile robots, AMRs. They will be huge in 2021. 

Prediction #14


A related technology and these autonomous mobile robotics are really becoming more and more advanced, because of the world of data analytics. As you know, I love focusing on where data is going. So let’s spend a little time talking about that. Would you believe that Google gets over 3.5 billion searches every single day? If you’ve traveled overseas, you know that a great app to use when you’re in another country and you don’t have access to your own mobile cell service is WhatsApp. WhatsApp users exchange 65 billion messages – with a B – every single day. Last year, every single person According to IBM generated 1.7 megabytes of data every single second. And according to Forbes between 2010 and 2020, In 10 years, data usage increased from 1.2 trillion gigabytes to almost 60 trillion. That’s how much data we’re exchanging around the globe. That is 5,000% growth in 10 years. I love this one: according to an organization called Unicorn Insights, using today’s technology, it would take a person – guess how long – to download all the data from the internet? To download all of the data from the internet would take 181 million years. According to Tech Jury, 95% of businesses cite the need to manage unstructured data as a problem for their business. In other words, we have data that relates to each other, but we don’t know exactly how we’re we have all this data, but we don’t understand the connections. 97.2% of businesses are investing in big data and artificial intelligence. Again, according to Tech Tree, we’re making significant investments in analytics in the companies we own. So the folks here at The TechEd Podcast, were looking to the future and making significant investments in how we use analytics, how we use data In the future, for how we measure our business, how we predict the future and how we react before things happen. 


Artificial intelligence machine learning, data analytics statistics, this belongs in every level of curriculum. We worked on a project last year separate from The TechEd Podcast with Oakland schools in Detroit, where 23 schools are teaching artificial intelligence and machine learning using automated guided vehicles, using autonomous vehicle technology, using self driving cars, at the middle school level, to teach middle school students about artificial intelligence and machine learning. This is important, this is the technology of the future. And now we need to work on implementing coding programs implementing data analytics programs into more and more of our educational pathways. So prediction #14, data analytics isn’t going away, this world is growing exponentially. 

Prediction #15


We’re finding newer and better ways to manage and analyze data and using machine learning technologies like classification, like unsupervised learning, like supervised learning, like reinforcement learning, we are able to do more and more with unstructured data. Businesses are investing like crazy in this world, we need to teach it in technical education. So data analytics is important artificial intelligence and machine learning. This isn’t the technology of the future. It’s everywhere today. And that’s prediction #15, is that right hand in hand with data analytics, we will see growth in the world of AI and ML. This isn’t the technology the future, it’s everywhere that we look or click today, every single order on Amazon is backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Every part that runs across a new CNC machine, every time a robot moves, what websites we visit, how long we dwell on a video on Tik Tok, how fast we drive, where our phone is. Technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning is everywhere. The question for you, if you’re in technical education, is where in your program? Are you teaching it? Were in your program? Are you teaching it artificial intelligence, and machine learning? 

BONUS: Prediction #16


So those are our 15 predictions for this year, we have one to go. But thinking and reflecting back on those predictions really, really interesting things happening in the world of technical education really exciting times to be preparing for 2022 If we are in technical education, and it is becoming more important than ever, that we stay tied in to trends to changes to best practices to what’s working, fixing what isn’t working and continuing to progress. So prediction #16. Prediction #16 is The TechEd podcast will be with you throughout the year 2022 to keep you up to date, and to continue to help you grow. Taking just a little bit of credit for our team here in the year 2021. We had 21 episodes on The TechEd Podcast with industry leaders. So 21 episodes with industry leaders, the Chairman of Rockwell Automation, the CEO of FANUC, the Chairman of Snap-on, the President of Mercury, the CEO and the Founder of Ashley Furniture, the Chief Executive of BMO, and many, many others, all kinds of really well known fortune 500 industry Leaders joined us on The TechEd Podcast this year. We had eight discussions with public policymakers. We had two Assistant Secretaries of Labor on the podcast with us this year, we had two former Governors in the form of Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker, both doing really interesting things now, in the next generation of their careers. We had the Secretary of Economic Development for the state of Wisconsin, the Adjutant General, the National Guard, people forming public policy, the President of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, eight of those folks. 15 episodes with education leaders, State System Presidents like Morna Foy, who’s the President of the Wisconsin Technical College System, former Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Elspermann, head of the Ivy Tech System, University Chancellors inluding the President of my alma mater, Marquette University, a statewide university system president and some fantastic leaders of Community and Technical Colleges and superintendents of the cutting edge school districts. And we’ve had a handful of monologues like this one, all of them with the goal of supporting those who secure the American Dream for the next generation of STEM and workforce talent. 


Can 2022 be even more incredible than 2021? Of course it can. Let’s take the journey together. And we will see you next year on The TechEd Podcast. Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Tech Ed podcast. If you haven’t already, subscribe, leave a review and if you liked this episode, share it with a friend. New episodes launch every Tuesday. So listen in next week

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top