Advancing Manufacturing through Integration of Information Technology
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2017 the manufacturing sector in Wisconsin produced $59.1 billion in economic output. The skilled technical workforce that supports this sector must understand both information technology and manufacturing. To this end, this project will develop an 18-credit hour, entry-level Integrated Manufacturing Certification with an emphasis on both Information Technology and Operational/Production Technology systems. The courses in the certificate will have defined competencies developed by faculty at the local and the state level. This certificate program will allow students to earn an industry-approved certification in less than a year that is recognized throughout the state. The project will use instructional approaches rooted in constructivism, inquiry, reflection, collaboration, and integration, as well as holistic student support, to graduate workforce-ready students. Professional development for faculty will focus on curriculum development and train-the-trainer peer instruction. It is expected that this approach will help students retain more knowledge while enjoying learning in a project-based, content-based, hands-on environment. In addition, the college will increase the learning opportunities in advanced manufacturing for secondary education students through pursuit of dual credits.
Many businesses in the field of advanced systems manufacturing struggle to maintain a workforce that is up-to-date in the skills required to remain competitive. Few post-secondary institutions provide education in Integrated Manufacturing with focus both on Information Technology and Operational/Production Technology systems. As a result, industries with manufacturing operations that use smart technologies need more workers with these integrated skills. For example, Bird's Eye Food in Darien, WI, has an annual payroll of $19.4 million, and purchases another $100 million in goods and services from vendors and service groups in the local area. In 2017, Bird's Eye Food invested 13 million dollars into its Darien facility for the installation of three new automated robotic packaging production lines. The increased automation and associated increased speed capabilities have created a need for maintenance technicians with advanced skills in robotic technology to service, troubleshoot, and maintain this equipment. To address this and related needs, the project will develop an Integrated Manufacturing curriculum that provides students with specialized training and industry approved certifications. To achieve this goal, the College will work with local industries, manufacturers, workforce development boards, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the National Convergence Technology Center to develop a curriculum that incorporates the newest industry advancements (e.g., Industry 4.0). The fully-developed curriculum will be open-source and available to educators across the country and internationally.