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What is Advanced Manufacturing? Exploring the Topography of Definitions

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Manufacturing Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division


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Paper Authors


Divya Pahuja Florida State University

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Divya Pahuja is a graduate research assistant at the School of Information at Florida State University. Her research interests include the use of text mining techniques and data analytics to explore gaps in educational pathways and healthcare industries.

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Marcia A. Mardis Florida State University Orcid 16x16

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Marcia A. Mardis is a Professor and Associate Dean at Florida State University's College of Communication & Information and Associate Director of the Information Institute. Author of numerous publication and recipient of over two decades of federally funded research grants, Dr. Mardis' work focuses on professional identity creation, educational text and data mining, and technician education improvement.

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Faye R. Jones Florida State University Orcid 16x16

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Faye R. Jones is a Senior Research Associate at Florida State University’s College of Communication & Information. Her research interests include STEM student outcomes and the exploration of student pathways through institutional research.

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Global economists have cited advanced manufacturing (AM) as one of the fastest growing, dynamic, and economically instrumental industry sectors in the world. In response, many community colleges and undergraduate-serving institutions have established technician education programs to prepare future workers to support AM vitality and innovation. However, in the rush to couple market and training demands, stakeholders have not agreed upon a definition of the field. Without a central notion of AM, the competencies and professional identities of AM workers are likewise unclear. In an effort to address this consensus gap, we undertook an extensive systematic review of AM definitions to chart of sector’s topography, in an effort to understand AM’s breadth and depth. The goals of this study were to: 1) define AM as perceived by policymakers and 2) identify important concepts and contextual factors that comprise and shape our understanding of AM. In this study, we used systematic policy and literature review approach to analyze canonical and research-based publications pertaining to AM’s origins, components, and operational definitions. We classified, compared, and synthesized definitions of AM depending by stakeholder, for example, professional organizations, government agencies, or educational program accreditors. Among our notable findings is that in the eyes of policymakers, manufacturers are advanced not because they make certain products, but because they have adopted sophisticated business models and production techniques. Advanced manufacturers typically use a combination of three factors to remain competitive: “advanced knowledge,” “advanced processes,” and “advanced business models.” This study is both timely and important because in a dynamic field such as AM, educators and industry leaders must work together to meet workforce needs. Clear understanding of AM can inform competency models, bodies of knowledge, and empirical research that documents school-to-career pathways. Both our findings and our methods may shed light on the nature of related technical fields and offer industry and education strategies to ensure their alignment.

Pahuja, D., & Mardis, M. A., & Jones, F. R. (2019, June), What is Advanced Manufacturing? Exploring the Topography of Definitions Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33554

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