IN-MAC Educates Future Workforce to Grow Industry
This means increasing awareness about careers that were once perceived as taking place in facilities that were dark and dingy but are now wonders of technology.
IN-MaC, which is jointly led by the Purdue University's College of Engineering and Purdue Polytechnic Institute, focuses on workforce education beginning with the state’s youngest citizens, technology adoption, and manufacturing research to increase Indiana’s image as the manufacturing destination of choice. It is co-directed by Jan-Anders Mansson, a distinguished professor of Materials Engineering and Chemical Engineering, and Nathan Hartman, the Dauch Family Professor of Advanced Manufacturing at Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and it operates in partnership with Purdue’s Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center.
The center teams with the Indiana Manufacturers Association to support the state’s more than 7,000 manufacturing companies. Much of the work is focused on educating the future workforce about the opportunities in industry. Programs are offered in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, and activities range from K-12 career exploration and STEM discovery and learning laboratories to internships and micro-grants encouraging manufacturing-relevant program development.
“IN-MaC is focused on improving youth exposure to and awareness of manufacturing career pathways. Manufacturing jobs are now high-skilled, high-tech, and cleaner, and safer than they used to be. Innovation is leading the manufacturing landscape with 3D adaptive printing, robotics, and data visualization and coding.” says Sascha Harrell, IN-MaC director of education and workforce.
IN-MaC and industry partners offer opportunities for youth to get a first-hand look at this new high tech world. The IN-MaC and Purdue-funded STEM lab at Lafayette’s Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. facility has been visited by nearly 3,000 K-12 students. During Manufacturing Week in early October, IN-MaC and Greater Lafayette Commerce hosted 2,000 K-12 students from nine regional counties at events including a career expo and tours of local manufacturing facilities.
In addition to supporting visits to facilities, IN-MaC also recently launched a Manufacturing Micro-Grant Program to grow youth manufacturing initiatives around the state of Indiana. Grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 are given to organizations in support of camps, field trips, career expos and other opportunities that expose children to the world of manufacturing. To date the Manufacturing Micro-Grant Program has impacted 16,000 youth across the state of Indiana.
Another new program, MakerMinded, is part of a national initiative to bridge the gap between manufacturing leadership and the future workforce through activities and STEM-based learning experiences for middle and high school students. The program offers students manufacturing facility tours, gaming activities and project-based learning. Students and schools receive points for each completed activity, with the top schools honored at year-end recognition events and eligible for receive virtual reality systems.
IN-MaC’s goal, from collaboration with Purdue faculty and industry to K-12 curriculum development, is to strengthen the state’s largest employer and overall economy. Manufacturing accounts for 30 percent of the Indiana economy and employs more than 500,000 people, according to Stephanie Wells, vice president of the Indiana Manufacturing Association.
“We need to increase awareness of what manufacturing is, that Indiana manufacturing is tech and exceptionally advanced, and that we are on the cusp of big change in the way manufacturing operates. We need to make sure everyone is aware of this and align the state’s education system and curriculum so that opportunities are available to kids,” Wells says.