Collaborative Research: Educating the Workforce in Cyber & Smart Manufacturing for Industry 4.0
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The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, refers to the changes in the advanced manufacturing industry that result from application of information technologies and automation. The result is continuing growth and development of "smart manufacturing," which uses tools such as big data, advanced robotics, and virtual reality. Workers in smart manufacturing industries need new skills to keep up with the changing landscape of manufacturing operations. To help meet the needs of the skilled technician workforce in smart manufacturing, this project will develop integrated courses and hands-on labs, create a smart manufacturing certificate, and develop career maps and pathways for students to advanced manufacturing careers. Faculty will also receive training to help them stay current with the latest technologies. The project will help educate technicians who have the skills needed in the next-generation workforce and help fill the growing needs of this fourth industrial revolution.For this project, Texas A&M University will partner with Northwest Louisiana Technical College. The goals will be to: 1) create a workforce capable of merging the manufacturing information technologies and operation technologies of cyber-enabled smart manufacturing; 2) train students in the interdisciplinary environment of Industry 4.0; 3) create pathways and career maps to assist students in completion of their education and preparation for future careers; and 4) facilitate a continuous improvement culture for faculty through professional development. This approach to technician training includes cyber-enabled, smart manufacturing processes, monitoring and control, data science, cyber-physical systems, and cloud computing to drive manufacturing operations. New courses will be developed and add-on modules will be introduced into existing curricula. These changes will enable students to expand their knowledge of communication protocols, integrated diagnostics, and analysis of scalable data. They will also enable students to work on interdisciplinary course projects that lead to a Smart Manufacturing Certificate. Industry internships and undergraduate research experiences will be incorporated into the curriculum. In addition, faculty development workshops and visiting-faculty appointments in industry will be included to enhance the ability of faculty to teach current smart manufacturing technologies and practices. Project materials, best practices, and results will be shared through the project website, professional conferences, and national organizations. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation''s economy.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.