Education and training are the keys to closing the manufacturing talent gap and fostering entrepreneurship. While there are several examples of innovation in manufacturing technology education by single institutions, they are still too small and fragmented to meet the demand levels of employers. There are also isolated examples of small networks of educational institutions, and of progressive employers. All of these need to be undertaken on a larger scale.
The solution to this problem requires concerted—and connected—efforts by government, employers, schools, and individuals themselves. Outreach to African Americans and minorities with programs designed and tailored specifically to their educational needs is imperative for manufacturing. A diversity-driven renaissance in manufacturing education needs to incorporate:
  • More technology-infused postsecondary education alternatives, meeting students and working learners “where they are” and “when they can learn;”
  • A heightened focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as well as critical thinking using modeling and simulation software;
  • More competency-based, post-secondary pathways with opportunities to earn industry endorsed credentials with value in the workplace;
  • Accelerated pathways to credentials and more “on and off” ramps to postsecondary education;
  • More internships and mentorships to align secondary and post secondary education with industry competencies, skill certifications, and entrepreneurship.
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The Institute offers specific manufacturing sector-based solutions that inspire and foster the development of science, engineering, entrepreneurship and leadership talent. Operations are divided into three distinct programs (outreach, education and entrepreneurship). When taken together as a continuum, these programs form the manufacturing diversity talent pipeline. Supporting programs include interdisciplinary research and program evaluation.
Within each program area, we use a conservative process to launch specific projects so that they provide near-term results, locally and nationally, as well as long-term value.

(1) We scan and adopt existing solutions from across the country and rapidly deploy them in underserved communities.
(2) After running each solution for a period of time, we evaluate (in situ) the results and adapt the solution to the needs of underserved communities and other people of color.
(3) Finally, after careful analysis, we extend the adopted/adapted solution into a commercially viable solution, that is informed by original, interdisciplinary research.
A multi-domain research effort brings needed information to the programs of the Manufacturing Diversity Talent Pipeline (outreach, education, and entrepreneurship). Research efforts and partnerships focus on the intersection of domains such as advanced learning technologies, data visualization, global competitiveness, modeling and simulation, and social sciences.
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Globalization, technology advancements and shifts in workforce demographics are among a number of drivers transforming traditional models of work. Because of this dynamic activity, the expectations of both employers and employees are evolving— creating new demands on talent management, work arrangements, visionary leadership and professional development. These drivers and issues frame how we evaluate our success.
The evaluation team is led by the Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Capital, (IC²) at the University of Texas at Austin, working in collaboration with local experts such as The Center for the Study of the Workplace, School of Continuing Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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© 2020 Manufacturing Diversity Institute