June 18, 2024

Purdue and Accenture develop online smart manufacturing program for employee upskilling

Curriculum is designed to teach foundational knowledge in digital transformation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is collaborating with industry leader Accenture on an online smart manufacturing education program for organizations looking to enhance employee skill sets.

The Smart Manufacturing Academy curriculum is self-paced and structured asynchronously, meaning employees can engage with course materials at different times and from different locations. It is designed to teach foundational knowledge in digital transformation to machine and line operators, technicians, plant managers, engineers, and employees in other manufacturing roles.

The program, which Purdue and Accenture are making available to businesses and industry associations, includes courses covering such topics as an introduction to smart manufacturing, the industrial Internet of Things, the connected worker, advanced automation and robotics, security, network infrastructure, and business skills.

“Purdue’s persistent pursuit of innovation is on prominent display within the Smart Manufacturing Academy,” said Diana Hancock, associate vice president of educational partnerships in Purdue’s Office of Industry Partnerships. “This dynamic education package is poised to make a mark on the upskilling landscape for frontline manufacturing operators, supervisors and technical experts.”

The Smart Manufacturing Academy expands a five-year agreement between Purdue and Accenture announced in 2022, including support for smart manufacturing teaching and research facilities at Purdue and a smart manufacturing scholarship program.

“As we help our clients reinvent manufacturing and build new facilities in North America, we see time and time again how important it is to take the workforce along the journey,” said Prasad Satyavolu, a managing director in Accenture’s digital engineering and manufacturing service, Industry X, who played a key role in the shaping of the Smart Manufacturing Academy. “For this purpose, we aim to empower the Smart Manufacturing Academy with Accenture LearnVantage learning content for digital engineering and manufacturing. The academy will provide proven know-how, peer experiences and real-life examples to workers and their managers. This learning experience will equip them with critical skills and help turn technology skeptics into active participants in the digital manufacturing reinvention.” 

Purdue, which inaugurates its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis on June 27 and officially opens on July 1, already has begun working with Conexus Indiana, an Indianapolis-based organization comprised of member companies with a goal of strengthening Indiana’s competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing. Conexus is promoting the Smart Manufacturing Academy to its members.

“Purdue’s Smart Manufacturing Academy fills a critical need for the sector as more and more Indiana manufacturers come to realize that digital skills are the foundation of success for a more productive, competitive future,” said Fred Cartwright, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana. “The academy’s virtual, industry-derived trainings help local manufacturers upskill essential on-the-floor talent while explaining the ‘why’ behind the adoption of digital tools to help change workforce behaviors in favor of digitization.”

Purdue also is working with its numerous engineering, technology and industry partners to promote the Smart Manufacturing Academy and engage employers to opt their teams into the program.

“The anywhere, anytime online format makes these courses easily accessible for our partners in businesses and industries across the country and around Indiana who need options for upskilling employees and grounding their organizations in digital skills that are central to the future of manufacturing,” said Dimitrios Peroulis, senior vice president for Purdue University Online.

The content is organized and distributed to learners based on their role in the manufacturing industry, but it is also designed to get everyone in an organization speaking the same language.

The 15 hours of material is delivered as bite-sized content including interactive tutorials, videos, infographics and other learning aids — all of which encompass a learner-centered approach to education that is engaging, fun and memorable.

Learning milestones and curriculum completion are rewarded with microcredentials and digital badges issued by Purdue to mark learners’ new knowledge and skills, with the completion of each module and the entire program.

The Purdue and Accenture collaboration and the Smart Manufacturing Academy were born from a critical need to address the growing demand for qualified candidates for the anticipated 4.6 million manufacturing jobs that will have to be filled by 2025, as well as provide solutions for the shifting core skills and subsequent reskilling required of current employees. 

Ranked one of the top 10 Most Innovative Schools in the U.S. for six years running by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue has a broad and deep expertise in advanced manufacturing across multiple sectors, including semiconductors, defense, aerospace, biomanufacturing pharmaceuticals, transportation and more. The Purdue Polytechnic Institute is the home of state-of-the art learning laboratories for smart manufacturing teaching and research and a smart manufacturing industrial informatics major.

“Purdue has been at the forefront of advanced manufacturing innovation and will continue to be a research and teaching leader in the field,” said Daniel Castro, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.We are advancing knowledge dissemination at scale, revolutionizing the preparation of the next generation of manufacturing graduates to lead in the era of Industry 4.0, and empowering industries to elevate their competitive edge.”

In the process, Purdue also is actively shaping the landscape of manufacturing higher education, said Ragu Athinarayanan, professor of engineering technology, who is a leader in Purdue’s smart manufacturing efforts.

“Our commitment to integrating advanced digital strategies and state-of-the-art technologies into our curriculum ensures that industries remain ahead of the curve, fostering innovation and excellence in manufacturing,” Athinarayanan said.

For more information about the Purdue and Accenture collaboration, contact PUcorporateonline@purdue.edu.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution demonstrating excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top four in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, including nearly 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 13 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap — including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, Purdue Computes and the One Health initiative — at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives

Writer: Greg Kline

Derek Schultz, dcschultz@purdue.edu

Sources: Diana Hancock, dlhancock@purdueforlife.org

Dimitrios Peroulis, dperouli@purdue.edu

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