Award using virtual reality to support training for digital manufacturing technologists
Purdue University Northwest has received an $881,425 grant from the National Science Foundation to provide training for digital manufacturing technologists.
In support of its Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources), PNW’s College of Technology will use the grant to develop an affordable, virtual reality framework in response to the demand for well-trained, digital manufacturing technologists. Employment projections indicate a decline in conventional manufacturing jobs, but marked growth in digital manufacturing positions.
Virtual reality instructional framework
“The virtual reality instructional framework we are developing, not only will advance the field of digital manufacturing, but also will strengthen STEM education and help remedy the lack of clearly defined career/educational pathways for entry-level digital manufacturing technologists,” Purdue Northwest Assistant Professor of Computer Graphics Technology Magesh Chandramouli said.
Digital manufacturing represents the use of computer-based manufacturing tools and techniques for planning, designing, visualizing and optimizing products and processes.
“More than half of the 3.5 million manufacturing positions required in the U.S. are expected to go unfilled due to a skills gap,” Chandramouli said.
Digital manufacturing advantages
He added that digital manufacturing offers advantages such as cost benefits, material conservation, minimized labor and enhanced precision. “Hence, there is an imminent need to educate our future workforce with the skills required to meet the digital manufacturing boom,” he said.
Chandramouli is the lead principal investigator for Project MANEUVER, while PNW colleague and Associate Professor Ge Jin is a co-principal investigator. Other project co-principal investigators are Professor Mel Cossette (Edmonds Community College), Professor Ismail Fidan (Tennessee Technological University) and Professor Wayne Merrell (Eastern Iowa Community College.)