Engineer of the Future: Preparing the Next Generation Smart/Intelligent Manufacturing Workforce​

Project Lead: Purdue University
Partners: Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, PTC, Caterpillar, Endress+Hauser, International Society of Automation, ProMach, General Mills, Fortinet, Sinto America, Foundry Education Foundation

Member % Cost Share: 50%
CESMII % Cost Share: 50%
Duration: 12 Months

Problem Statement

The 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4) is transforming the manufacturing industry in the United States. It is estimated 2.4M or 53% of positions will be unfilled due to skills shortage resulting from the digital transformation in US manufacturing. If qualified workers cannot be found to fill the open jobs, this would impact about 17% of the total US forecasted manufacturing GDP of US$2.67 trillion. 

Project Goal

Develop a comprehensive 4-yr Smart Manufacturing BS degree program adhering to ABET accreditation standards, as a pathway for preparing manufacturing engineers who can meet the demands of a smart manufacturing (SM) workforce and promote transformation of US manufacturing industries

Technical Approach

  • Purdue University established strategic partnerships with key stakeholders to guide in the design and development of the SM BS degree program. 
  • Reference frameworks developed jointly by Purdue and its partners to guide development of the project. ​​
  • A SM Curriculum Framework highlighting the three core foundations of digital transformation mapped to the 9-core capabilities and digitalization strategies of Industry 4.0​
  • A SM Physical Infrastructure Framework to guide development of Smart Manufacturing (SM) learning systems and facilities highlighting the integration between smart connected machines, processes, and people.​
  • A SM Reference Enterprise Architecture & Framework to guide development of a Vertically- & Horizontally-Integrated SM learning systems and facilities across the cyber-physical production lifecycle ​

Deliverables/Outcomes/SM Marketplace

  •  ​Delivered Complete Engineering Design Schematics for all Course Learning Systems and Laboratories
  • Delivered Detailed Design for enterprise architecture and network infrastructure for all learning facilities
  • Delivered Courses, Plan of Study and Documentation Package for 4-year Smart Manufacturing Engineering Curriculum
  • Courses, Plan of Study and Documentation Package for 4-year Smart Manufacturing Engineering Curriculum
  • Course curricula and learning activity plans for Smart Factory, Industrial IoT, Continuous Process Control, and Smart Foundry

Potential Impact

  • Create a new pipeline of manufacturing graduates who can contribute to, and accelerate the digital transformation of the US manufacturing industry. ​
  • Reference frameworks for transformation of undergraduate manufacturing education in the US aligned with technology and data-driven strategies of Industry 4.0. ​
  • Address the widening the gap between emerging jobs in manufacturing and workers with the needed skills
  • Increases industry exposure and awareness to the benefits of SM and reduce barriers for adoption of Industry 4.0 data-driven strategies and technologies in manufacturing


  • A comprehensive framework to transform manufacturing education developed by Purdue University for preparing the future STEM workforce for Smart Manufacturing
  • Purdue’s education frameworks could be socialized to other US higher education institutions to scale the development of SM workforce pipeline 
  • ​​Contribute to CESMII’s workforce transformation efforts, democratize Smart Manufacturing, accelerate digital transformation, and increase competitiveness of US manufacturing domestically and also globally

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