• Greg Jones

Industry 4.0 in career and technical education

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Smartforce Development recently attended the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Workforce Development Institute (WDI) Annual Conference on Amelia Island, Fla. The most common thread running throughout the conference workshop sessions, panel discussions, and plenary sessions was Industry 4.0 and how educational institutions need to respond to, or, more to the point, be proactive about industry needs in developing a workforce that is Industry 4.0-capable.

The more than 750 attendees at AACC WDI included our closest friends who are community college presidents, chancellors, and program deans who attended this particular WDI specifically because of its focus on Industry 4.0. In fact, more than 300 of the conference attendees were first-timers seeking solutions on how to build educational programs to meet the needs of companies in their communities.

Traditionally at AACC WDI, a full day is dedicated to pre-conference sessions where attendees can go deep on a specific topic. I was invited to speak on behalf of AMT during the pre-conference session on Industry 4.0 and, having attended this conference in the past, I was amazed that we were able to hold our audience for the entire six-hour-long session. That speaks to the interest that educators have in discovering more information directly from industry partners on Industry 4.0 and how it affects their classroom and lab program offerings.

For my part of the pre-conference session, I informed the audience of educators about a current project that NIMS is working on in partnership with Festo Didactic to develop industry-recognized standards and credentials for Industry 4.0 careers. And, of course, since AMT manages the MTConnect Institute, Russ Waddell has been part of the Technical Work Group advancing the standards and credentials development.

I also briefed the audience on MTConnect, and the focus of my presentation was on six key Industry 4.0 topic areas. AMT is currently developing content on six topics as part of our 2020 priority project: Educating and Engaging Industry on Transformational Technologies. These six priority project topics are:

  • Additive manufacturing

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning

  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

  • Automation and robotics

  • Digital twin

  • Generative design

We are working with our exhibit partners for the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2020 to continue demonstrating our industry’s view of the manufacturing technology classroom of the future. We will be expanding the number of AR application solutions that will be on display as well as expanding into digital twin and generative design.

AR is a technology that can be deployed throughout schools to more rapidly educate the next generation on current manufacturing technologies as well as on transformative technologies as they become more widely used throughout manufacturing; companies have an urgent need for a workforce trained in these technologies.

Our members can find out more about AMT’s priority project on educating and engaging the industry on transformative technologies by attending all of AMT’s events in 2020 leading up to IMTS, through the AMT Tech Trends Podcast, and through e-Learning modules coming later in 2020. The Tech Trends Podcast is available on Google Play, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Soundcloud, and more.