July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Recent advances in robotics and industrial automation have revolutionized the way the manufacturing industry operates. Today, commercial and industrial robots are in widespread use performing jobs more cost effectively and in some cases with greater accuracy and reliability than humans. With rapid technological advancements, workers' skills are becoming outdated faster than ever before. The state of Ohio has a strong manufacturing base and an increasing demand for a highly-trained, skilled workforce in robotics and advanced manufacturing. Today, Ohio remains third in the nation for the size of our manufacturing workforce: nearly 685,000 employees in 2016, trailing only the much larger states of California and Texas. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of qualified candidates for high-tech manufacturing jobs, especially those in the designing, operating, and troubleshooting of industrial robotics and automation systems. This is mainly due to insufficient local engineering technology degree programs to meet the specific workforce demand. The Department of Engineering Technology at Miami University is uniquely positioned to address the workforce talent gap and create transdisciplinary educational opportunities in industrial robotics. To address the statewide and national needs of the robotics workforce the department has been granted various grants by the local community and the State’s Department of HIgher Education in creating educational programs. The department is currently developing a new Bachelor of Applied Science degree program in Robotics Engineering Technology (RET) and several professional certificate programs on advanced manufacturing and Industrial Robotics systems in order to train the workforce demanded by the region’s manufacturing industry. The target audience for the new RET program is composed of both traditional and non-traditional students, including many working adults. We also plan to offer the program to students in other areas of the state through distance-learning. The department also plans to offer program courses remotely at a range of business and 2-year college partners of the Miami university via synchronous distance-learning delivery methods. The proposed RET bachelor’s degree program will also complement the robotics-focused 2-year associate degree programs offered at various colleges of the state. To support the new RET program and professional certificates, the department has recently established an advanced Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics Laboratory. The laboratory consists of various industrial robot workstations, simulation software, robot-integrated floor-size CNC workstations and cloud-enabled, flexible manufacturing cell capable of robotic welding, machine vision-based inspection and automated material handling operations. In this paper, we mainly focus on the challenges and opportunities of developing the new Robotics Engineering Technology degree program and present the planned curriculum and designed laboratory modules and other student-centric activities for training on robotics and integrated manufacturing systems. We will also present and discuss the evaluation methods used for assessment. Our new flexible manufacturing laboratory has been designed to support engineering technology as well as student-centered research and development activities sponsored by the area industry. Education and workforce development focusing on industrial robotics and automation will transform the way that Engineering Technology courses are delivered, maximizing hands-on and experiential learning and providing students with a high-tech, industry-based skill set.
Bal, M. (2021, July), Developing Engineering Technology Programs to Address the Workforce Skills Gaps in Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36943
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