Bridging the Skills Gap in Smart Manufacturing through a New Technician Education Program
As the rapidly developing field of Smart Manufacturing introduces advanced technologies into traditional manufacturing facilities, technical education must keep pace. Such technologies include smart machines, advanced control systems, the industrial internet of things, and cloud services. This project aims to address the growing gap between the skills employers need in Smart Manufacturing and the skills students develop from traditional technical education programs. By creating new academic pathways, this project plans to increase the number of skilled technicians who can meet the demand from key regional employers. The project will support professional development activities to help college and high school instructors understand new trends in manufacturing. The new curriculum will focus on enabling students to learn the skills needed to be successful in a Smart Manufacturing environment. This project may also provide a model for other colleges that want to implement a Smart Manufacturing technical education program.
The primary goal of this project is to create a manufacturing industry-aligned technician education pathway in Smart Manufacturing, with the goal of increasing the supply of qualified technicians with proficiency in advanced technology applications. A job skills analysis will be performed to identify the set of technical skills that are needed in Smart Manufacturing facilities. Based on the results of the analysis, a curriculum in Smart Manufacturing will be developed to include multiple pathways leading to Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates. The pathways will also include entry points and fast track options for incumbent workers in manufacturing and information technology fields. A Smart Manufacturing career pathway initiative will be designed to recruit underrepresented students, promote careers in manufacturing to high school students, and establish transfer agreements with four-year programs. The project will also organize an annual Smart Manufacturing Summit to bring together industry practitioners, community college instructors, and high school instructors to promote dissemination of best practices in technical education for Smart Manufacturing.