HU’s Advanced Manufacturing program readies students for the digital factory

Manufacturing has advanced well beyond the stage of blast furnaces, belching smokestacks and unskilled labor.

Changes in technology, materials, and processes have revolutionized the industry. And Harrisburg University’s Advanced Manufacturing Program helps prepare students for the ever-increasing and ever-changing technological demands of what is being called the “Digital Factory.”

That’s just one of the titles applied to the making of things in the 21st Century.  Also referred to as “Industry 4.0,” the terms “Automatous Robots,” “System Integrations,” “The Internet of Things (IOT),” and “Cloud Computing” are synonymous with Advanced Manufacturing.

Much of the manufacturing that takes place across the globe today is dubbed Advanced Manufacturing due to the addition of information, computation, automation, devices, software, sensing, and networking to the manufacturing process.

As Advanced Manufacturing grows more sophisticated, so grows the skill gap needed to fill positions in the industry. There are tens of thousands of Advanced Manufacturing jobs left unfulfilled each year across the U.S. In Pennsylvania alone there were 10,426 manufacturing jobs advertised, with only 544 listed as entry-level positions, in January 2019.

It’s predicted that Smart manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing, Industrial Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0 will need a combined 3 million skilled workers by 2025. Yet, 2 million of those positions are expected to go unfilled due to the lack of skilled employees that will exist in the marketplace.

Like many other programs adopted at Harrisburg University, real marketplace needs like this led the University to establish its Advanced Manufacturing Bachelor of Science Program last year, a program the University expects to flourish and become one of the strongest majors offered at HU.

In fact, three floors of the University’s new $150 million educational tower, soon to be under construction at the corner of Chestnut and South Third Streets in downtown Harrisburg, will be dedicated to our Advanced Manufacturing program. The three floors of space will be outfitted with $9.5 million of state-of-the-art equipment that will help make HU’s Advanced Manufacturing program even more hands-on, said Dr. Charles “Chip” Shearrow, Associate Professor and Advanced Manufacturing Program Lead.

The University’s Advanced Manufacturing Program gives students the ability to become certified in additive (3D) manufacturing, ABB Robots, and Subtractive Manufacturing by Mazak. And it helps prepare them for an array of careers.

Advanced manufacturing-related careers include:

  • Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
  • Architectural and Civil Drafters
  • Automation Technicians
  • Civil Engineering Technicians
  • Mechanical Drafters
  • Robotics Technicians
  • Environmental Engineering Technicians
  • Fuel Cell Technicians
  • Industrial Engineering Technologies
  • Mechanical Engineering Technologists

“The program is centered on hands-on activities using traditional and state-of-the art equipment to provide a practical understanding of processes, equipment, software, and materials,” Dr. Shearrow said. “Combining the two educational concepts of STEM and Advanced Manufacturing will provide the marketplace with highly skilled employees,” Dr. Shearrow said. “Graduates of the program are dependable, pay attention to detail and possess critical thinking and communication skills. They also have the ability to be cross-trained, have an interest and aptitude for technology and possess strong critical thinking skills.”

Advanced Manufacturing courses at Harrisburg University range from Microcomputer Applications in Technology and Manufacturing Technology and Society to Metallic Materials and Manufacturing Processes, Computer Assisted Drafting and Basics of Manufacturing Simulation.

State-of-the-art equipment HU Advanced Manufacturing students work with include laser cutting and welding equipment, water jets, Compliance Robots, 3D printers, and much more.

“Our program is unique because we combine STEM education and Advanced Manufacturing together. We supply well-educated employees to industrial entity’s that are using or moving to advanced manufacturing,” Dr. Shearrow added. “The program provides hands on experience with current technologies and processes. And it promotes and advances the proliferation of advanced manufacturing in Pennsylvania.”

To learn more about Harrisburg University’s Bachelor of Science in Advanced Manufacturing Program, visit https://harrisburgu.edu/bachelor-of-science-in-advanced-manufacturing-adma-program-goals-courses/.

About Harrisburg University

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology, and math fields. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email, Connect@HarrisburgU.edu.