The International Society of Automation (ISA) will begin developing a new certification program as part of a recently announced $23 million federal grant to fund two-year degree programs in “Mission Critical Operations” at five North Carolina colleges.

The grant, administered through the U.S. Department of Labor, is designed to prepare tomorrow’s workforce to compete for increasingly demanding, high-wage, and high-skill jobs in industrial operations and information technology, particularly those defined as mission critical—“operations requiring round-the-clock supervision of systems” and those “aimed at combating the evolving threat of critical infrastructure operations failure.”

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ISA’s new Certified Mission-Critical Professional (CMCP) certification program will test graduates based on the skills and body of knowledge taught through new Mission Critical Operations curriculum and degree programs to be established at Cleveland Community College, Wake Technical Community College, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Nash Community College, and Moultrie Technical College.

While Mission Critical Operations encompasses a broad spectrum of career areas—including infrastructure maintenance, communications, and emergency operations—ISA’s new CMCP certification program will focus on industrial operations, such as automation engineering technology, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity of industrial control networks.

More than half of the $23 million grant is allocated to Cleveland Community College, the grant consortium leader in North Carolina and a long-time workforce development partner of ISA and ISA’s sister organization, the Automation Federation. Nearly $1.5 million of the remaining amount will finance ISA’s development of the CMCP certification program.