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Projects & Initiatives
Jim Woodell, Ph.D.
Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement
202-478-6044
Mark Rivera
Coordinator, Economic Development and Community Engagement
202-478-6096
mrivera@aplu.org

Aligning Higher Education Curricula with Manufacturing Workforce Needs

The initiative will engage educators and manufacturing scientists to ensure instruction includes the latest technology.

Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), APLU, and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) named six educators to its Expert Educator Team (EET). The EET are collaborating with LIFT’s technology project teams to identify how colleges and universities can modify their curricula and related industry certifications to meet the knowledge, skills, and abilities workers will need for jobs deploying the new lightweighting technologies, materials, and processes being developed by LIFT.

The team will meet several times over the coming year to review multiple technology projects currently underway, identify the knowledge, skills and abilities these new technologies will require in both the design and production workforces, and begin to determine where gaps in curricula exist. Closing these gaps will provide students the right knowledge and skills needed for jobs working with new technologies. In addition to identifying those in-demand skills, the team will work to develop recommendations for effective technology-aligned education strategies and will review the LIFT technology portfolio to recommend additional education and workforce development initiatives.

Based on meeting discussions, the EET will produce a series of promising practices papers to urge universities and industry partners to work together to address known “pain points” in building the advanced manufacturing workforce. Primary emphases of the papers will be on universities’ ability to translate technology, materials, and process development—especially related to lightweighting—into emerging competencies and to develop strategies that address skill needs.

As part of initiative LIFT will also host a workshop in August for universities and their industry partners in LIFT states. The focus of the workshop will be on methods for identifying effective technology-aligned, work-and-learn education strategies, and on action planning for adoption of strategies. Registration details will be available in May 2017.

NCMS will co-lead the EET and provide input as the largest cross-industry collaborative research and development consortium in North America, innovating in commercial, defense, robotics and sustainable manufacturing.