New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Two Year College Division
It has been long recognized that liberal arts (BA) graduates receive excellent education and are well rounded graduates. They possess excellent communication skills, are adaptable and innovative. Multiple employer surveys and educational standards stress the importance of liberal arts education as part of preparing technical careers students such as engineers and computer scientists. However, it is also well recognized that BA graduates have a lesser of a chance of good employment than their counterparts in technical careers. Their chances of employment in economic downturns is even less. Many of these graduates are either un- or under-employed during recession times. Their pay scale is always less.
The lack of career opportunities and less pay for BA graduates pose problems for them as well as their society. These graduates cannot claim financial independence after graduation from their parents nor can they pay back their student loans. Similarly, they cannot participate in the economic growth due to lack of purchasing power.
We have the exact opposite problem in technical fields such as engineering. There is a lack of graduates to fill the open positions. That is a well-known problem for STEM fields where the STEM workforce has shortages that cannot be filled by graduating engineers alone. One known area where labor shortage has been documented is advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing is making a comeback to the US after decades of defecting offshore to overseas countries. Advanced manufacturing positions in particular go unfilled due to lack of skilled workers although the pay scale is high.
This paper presents an innovative approach to solving these two problems: lack of employment for BA graduates and lack of STEM graduates to fill advanced manufacturing positions. The approach is centered around the retraining of BA graduates to transform their careers to advanced manufacturing to fill these positions and prosper economically and gain their financial freedom. The central research question is how to accomplish this vision? The paper discusses a project currently funded by NSF that aims to answer this research question. A synthesis of the problem shows the following elements that must be put together: 1. Target positions for BA graduates: what kind of positions in advanced manufacturing can BA graduates handle? 2. Advanced manufacturing curriculum for BA graduates: what kind of curriculum can these graduates handle? The issue here is we attempt to teach technical subject to non-technical majors. How long should the curriculum be? 3. Avoid additional student loans: how can BA graduates transform their careers without additional student loan debt? 4. Reaching the intended students: where can we find these BA graduates and how can we reach them and convince them to buy into our vision?
The paper authors have spent over a year since the NSF grant was awarded researching and answering these questions. We have successfully identified the suitable advanced manufacturing positions to BA graduates, developed the curriculum accordingly, found the best source to reach our target audience, and recruited industry internships. As a result, our first cohort has 10 students and is now enrolled and taking course and participating in internships. This is the first cohort of three that takes place over three years.
This paper presents the elements of the program: targeted advanced manufacturing positions, design and delivery of transforming curriculum and program, BA graduates recruitment, companies recruitment, program logistics, student advising, internship opportunities, and lessons learned. The contribution of this paper is many-fold. First, we share the challenges we encountered and how we changed them to successes. Second, we show how this concept can be replicated at the national level to other parts of the country (our programs targets BA graduates in the Greater Boston area). Third, we report on the local industry needs and how they participate. Finally, we offer lesson learned.
Zeid, I. F., & Javdekar, C. N., & Duggan, C., & Bograd, M. (2016, June), Transforming Liberal Arts Graduates to Advanced Manufacturing Careers: The First Cohort Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27077
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015