Tech is changing manufacturing. These classes could help people and businesses adapt.
An upcoming online course on digital manufacturing and design will be the first massive online open course (MOOC) from Goose Island based UI Labs. (Keri Wiginton / Blue Sky)
By Amina Elahi
Blue Sky Innovation
JANUARY 20 , 2017 , 1 :54 PM
xperts agree that automation is coming to American manufacturing, but many employers and workers still have to learn how to adapt.
An upcoming online course on digital manufacturing and design aims to address questions about the future of manufacturing, and will be the first massive online open course (MOOC) from Goose Islandbased UI Labs.
“Digital Manufacturing and Design Technology” will offer about 40 hours of instruction in 10 installments delivered by Coursera, a leading platform for online courses. The first three will be online Jan. 30, with the rest going live later in the year. Topics include digital design and manufacturing basics, intelligent machines and cybersecurity.
Enrollment for the first three courses is now open on Coursera’s website. All of the videos and readings will be available for free, but users must pay $49 a month if they want access to assignments and to work toward earning a certificate of completion.
“There really is an incredible group of people that need to understand digital manufacturing,” said UI Labs CEO Caralynn Nowinski Collens ⇒. Students, factory workers and leaders of small manufacturing companies are among those who would benefit from the course, she said.
Collens said the course is part of UI Labs’ strategy of addressing an evolving workforce as her organization strives to encourage innovation in manufacturing. She also wants to make digital tools and techniques ubiquitious in American manufacturing, which will require a great many people to understand how it works and why it’s valuable.
A $380,000 award from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), which UI Labs runs, funded development of the course. It was produced in partnership with the University at Buffalo, as well as industry partners including Siemens PLM and the Association for Manufacturing Technology.
Tim Leyh, the executive director of the Center for Industrial Effectiveness at the University at Buffalo, said the course will teach people how the digital approach can affect products from start to end: From design and production, through the product’s use, and finally, disposal.
He said he hopes the course will reach small and medium manufacturers, who may not have the resources of their larger counterparts to experiment with digital processes.
The goal of the series is “educating a workforce that is ready and prepared to go into these new and advanced technologies,” he said.
Massive online open courses, which anyone can take, are a good way to deliver lessons on niche topics to a large number of people, said Mark Nemec, dean of the Graham School of Continuing Studies at the University of Chicago.
UI Labs can piggyback off the Coursera platform and brand to reach its 22 million users, Nemec said. Plus, he said online courses are not necessarily worse than those delivered in person. The University of Chicago is not a UI Labs partner.
Nemec was unsure of whether the certificate, which is only available to paying students, will be worth it. He said employers do like certificates from known institutions, such as Harvard University.
“The value is still a little bit TBD, because it’s unclear how accepted the certificates are in the marketplace,” he said.
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