Are We Approaching a Technical Skills Shortage?

A concern has been growing in recent years over the potential for a technical skills shortage in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere around the globe, particularly in science, and engineering-related occupations.

It is generally predicted that, by 2018, a mass wave of retirements by members of the Baby Boom generation will result in 1.2 million U.S. job openings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and there will likely be a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them.  The full depth of the STEM skills shortage may be even greater than this, as 50 percent of jobs that require STEM skills do not require a bachelor’s degree or better, according to Plant Services.

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K.I.S.S. for Better Network Planning and Increased Collaboration

Collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is becoming a necessity to design and deploy an industrial network architecture that follows IT best practices for security, high availability, and quality of service.

However, skills gaps still exist between IT and OT that can jeopardize effective planning and configuration of the physical and logical network fabric, especially at the switch level.  In the words of Panduit Solutions Manager Dan McGrath, “My contention is that two kinds of switches are found in many plants today: (1) unmanaged and (2) poorly managed!”

Dan makes a point worth considering, as unmanaged switches are often deployed to enable quick initial startup of the machine or process.  However, this short-term gain can turn into a long-term loss when the time comes to scale more nodes or integrate single machines into the wider factory network, in the form of increased time and materials costs.

Deploying managed switches is a definite step up, but can give plant teams a false sense of manageability and security. If managed switches are deployed as plug-and-play devices without attention to configuration and setup, IT/OT directors may be left with a network that works on Day 1 but is teetering on the edge of functionality or with major security flaws.

To update a famous acronym, I think there is a better approach that IT and OT teams can follow that will drive better network planning and increased team collaboration:  Know, Integrate, Simplify, and Standardize, or K.I.S.S.

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Joliet Catholic Academy Enhances Learning Experience

It’s Back-to-School season for many readers and their children—time for students of all ages to meet new friends and teachers, get some fresh school clothes and/or uniforms, and check for the closest wi-fi hot spot.

Technology has become a significant part of students’ everyday lives, with tablets and interactive eBooks starting to replace heavy textbooks in everyone’s backpack, according to SecurEdge Networks.  In fact, SecurEdge reports that the average college student now uses three devices daily, and 67% of surveyed students claim that they cannot go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology.

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Safety in the Workplace

Recently we had the opportunity to guest write on Thorne and Derrick’s blog.  Below is what we published on the topic of Safety in the Workplace!

You may ask yourself why you need a safety services program in your organization?

It’s expensive, I need additional staff, and we haven’t had an incident yet…YET is the key word! It’s time to start being proactive instead of reactive! In addition to the numerous industry-wide standards for hazardous energy, electrical safety and environmental standards, the safety of your workplace and personnel should be a top of mind concern.

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Common Core State Standards Initiative

Common Core Standards MapAs many of us know, Common Core is a set of high academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts.  The standards outline what students are going to accomplish throughout each school year.  The ultimate goal is to prepare America’s students for college and career as stated by the Common Core State Standards.  In effort to achieve these goals, school systems are now being asked to integrate technology into their academic programs, i.e. digital materials, present with multiple media formats, as well as promote collaboration amongst students and schools with the use of blogs and social media.

The Common Core Initiative has been received with mixed reviews from parents across the country, however there are also challenges for  educational IT departments as well.  With all of the new technologies being introduced into the classroom, you now have increased devices connected to the network, higher bandwidth demands, speed expectations, increased wireless coverage, network security issues, and not to mention the budget to fund it all!

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COMING SOON…The Panduit Select Mobile App!

Take the Power of Panduit with you, with Panduit Select! We are getting ready to launch a brand new mobile app in order to help you maintain project momentum, and take immediate action to keep your business moving. With capabilities like generating bills of materials, locating distributors, and document sharing, Panduit Select helps keep your project on task on the mobile device of your choice. Check out our video to learn more!

The Health of Your Network Matters

Nursing HomeHospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, and physicians’ offices are facing increasing pressure to improve the quality of healthcare while decreasing costs.  In response, health care providers are adopting greater use of electronic medical records, automated equipment and building automation systems. As a result, the number of users requiring network access through the use of portable and mobile devices such as handheld units and laptops to manage patient records, monitor clinical applications and reference workplace requirements is extending the need for campus wide network access.

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DAS Matters Now More Than Ever

KenI would like to introduce Ken Sandfeld from SOLiD, our guest author this week.  Ken is the Executive Vice President at SOLiD, leading the go-to-market and product strategy activities for network densification solutions.  He has over 17 years of experience in the wireless infrastructure industry and is passionate about bringing innovative technologies to market. Thank you Ken, for your valuable time and input this week!

DAS Matters Now More Than Ever

As a manufacturer of indoor and outdoor wireless network densification solutions, we keep a bird’s eye view of the industry to spot market and technology trends. So it was with keen interest that we observed multiple articles and reports originating from the recently-concluded Mobile World Congress touting the comeback of DAS or Distributed Antenna Systems.

Really? We didn’t know DAS was purportedly on the outs.

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Is It Time to Beef Up Your School Technology Infrastructure?

School curriculum is changing! You used to have pencils, paper, chalkboards, and if you were lucky, an overhead projector.  Now our children are using computers, iPads, or even learning from the comfort of their own home! The technology advances in the education field are amazing, but what does it mean for a school’s physical infrastructure?  Are they prepared to handle all of these advanced digital materials and learning devices?

We all know that bandwidth requirements are ever-increasing, and if you work in the education field, how can you be prepared to future-proof your network?  With many districts facing these same future-proofing issues, here are six strategies for school IT administrators to consider before embarking on any physical infrastructure technology improvement plan.

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Building Systems Convergence – Are You on Board?

When you think of all the systems your building operates it can be an overwhelming list!  You typically have communication, computing, power, lighting, security, HVAC and fire life and safety systems right?  All of these systems help a facility function on a day to day basis by providing a means to communicate with one another, power the building, maintain climate and lighting control, and basic engineering and maintenance. But typically, each of these systems run on a dedicated network with various protocols, which aren’t integrated, increasing complexity, staff, and not to mention points of control.

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