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Innovation In Manufacturing Education And Workforce Development The Prime Coalition

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Closing Manufacturing Competency Gaps I

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.669.1 - 7.669.10



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Paper Authors

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Karen Harris

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Sunday Faseyitan

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Robert Myers

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Pearley Cunningham

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Winston Erevelles

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Main Menu Session 2463

Innovation in Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development – The PRIME Coalition Winston F. Erevelles – Robert Morris University Karen Harris– Penn State New Kensington Pearley Cunningham – Community College of Allegheny County Sunday Faseyitan - Butler County Community College Robert Myers – Westmoreland County Community College

I. Introduction

The manufacturing base of Southwestern Pennsylvania is the key to a healthy regional economy. Manufacturing is the second largest private sector employer with 166,000 jobs, and the first in annual wages with a total payroll of over $6 billion 1, 2. The average manufacturing wage of $40,000 compares very favorably to the $28,000 average of other sectors. In southwestern Pennsylvania, the manufacturing workforce (which is 15% of the total workforce) accounts for $56 billion of a $139 billion economy. This is a clear indication of the impact that the relatively small number of manufacturing jobs has on the regional economy.

This essential regional economic base is being threatened by a critical shortage of skilled technicians and engineers needed to sustain and grow the region's manufacturers 3. This is further complicated by the fact that the industry base in Southwestern Pennsylvania is no longer dominated by the steel industry. Manufacturers in the region now exhibit significant diversity in materials, processes, and technology thereby challenging the educational system that needs to be in place to prepare the regional workforce.

At a time when manufacturers cannot recruit a sufficient number of skilled workers, there is a segment of the region's workforce that is under-employed and often working in the service and retail sectors for much lower wages. The projected retirement attrition rate of 5% per year in the manufacturing sector further exacerbates this situation. This disconnect in the deployment of the regional workforce was the impetus for an effort targeting the recruitment and education of the kind of workforce demanded by the region's manufacturers while simultaneously providing new and rewarding career paths for the region’s youth.

The challenge of transforming academic institutions into educators of highly qualified manufacturing employees that are skilled in mathematics, science and technological innovation is a critical one that has drawn national attention. In southwestern Pennsylvania, the response to this challenge has taken the form of an innovative partnership called PRIME. The Partnership for Regional Innovation in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) is an industry-driven, five-college system delivering innovative manufacturing education and career development in southwest Pennsylvania. Established in 1999, PRIME brings together Robert Morris University (RMU), Pennsylvania State New Kensington (PSNK), the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Butler County Community College (BCCC) and Westmoreland County Community

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Harris, K., & Faseyitan, S., & Myers, R., & Cunningham, P., & Erevelles, W. (2002, June), Innovation In Manufacturing Education And Workforce Development The Prime Coalition Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10153

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