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Embedded Curriculum with Industry Recognized Certifications to Improve the Marketability of Engineering Technology Graduates

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is challenging the industries to change the way they manage and operate the manufacturing environment. This leads to the transformation of the world through artificial intelligence, next-generation robotics, automation, big data analytics, 5G technology and Internet of Things. This idea of Industry 4.0 forces the change in the industries of today and tomorrow. In this, cyber physical systems communicate with one another using the Internet of Things. The manufacturing sector takes full advantage of these technologies to produce innovative products to enhance the human experience. Contrary to the prediction of huge job loss due to these new technologies, more jobs are being created at a rapid pace. This is evident in the number of job openings growing at double-digit rates since mid-2017. This trend created a new set of problems in finding a matching workforce that will support the growing areas of advanced manufacturing in digital talent, skilled production and operational managers. The digital talent includes programming and managing a pool of computer-enabled machines and equipment.

This demands for qualified workers in key areas of technical trades. This includes technologies such as, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Computer Numerical Control, Coordinate Metrology, Industrial Robots, Mobile Autonomous Robots, Collaborative Robots and Automation. In the Recent Polls of American Distribution & Logistics Companies, 50% say that they see a critical need for these technologies to garner technology driven operational efficiencies.

According to the study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, the skills needed in the above areas may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $ 2.5 trillion. Further, the study shows that the positions relating to digital talent, skilled production, and operational managers may be three times as difficult to fill in the next three years.

The University of XXX has undertaken an initiative to address the growing needs of skilled human power in these critical areas that are very important for the local industries to sustain the competitive edge in the global manufacturing environment. Industries often look for graduates that are ready to be employed with minimum on the job training. The certifications offered by the professional institutions serve as the enabling tool for industries to assess the potential of newly minted graduate who have minimum field experience.

This paper presents the details on the innovative development of the embedded engineering technology curriculum with industry recognized certifications in the much-needed areas of Industry 4.0. This will invariably help the industries to mitigate the difficult-to-fill workforce needs in the critical areas of advanced manufacturing. Also, discussed in detail in the paper are the pedagogical aspects of the Engineering Technology curriculum and the seamless integration of industry recognized certifications that have the potential to enhance the marketability of its graduates.


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