Smart Manufacturing NSF Funding Demonstrates Collaboration Across College Programs

In late summer 2018, the Motlow State Community College (MSCC) in Tennessee and Mechatronics Professor Khalid Tantawi was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education project grant to advance Smart Manufacturing concepts. Joining that $545,000 grant project as a Co-Principal Investigator is Dr. Ismail Fidan, from Tennessee Tech University and a TEAMM Network member.

What is Smart Manufacturing?

In recent years, organizations, such as, The World Economic Forum has been studying the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” also known as Industry 4.0, or in the USA – “Smart Manufacturing.” It seeks to change how we currently manufacture by employing advanced sensors, computer controls, big data (and the modeling and analysis of it) and other automation technologies to make manufacturing more efficient.

According to a release from MSCC, “The project, titled “Smart Manufacturing for America’s Revolutionizing Technological Transformation” will feature Motlow as a national hub for training Smart Manufacturing for Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing educators across the nation.” You can learn more about it here.

Image Courtesy: Motlow State Community College

One of the successful aspects to many National Science Foundation grant projects is that the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program creates opportunities to collaborate across multiple educational institutions and disciplines as well as between professors at those schools.

The TEAMM Collaboration Network is a terrific example of this cross pollination with its diverse 30-plus network members across 2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, as well as other education, nonprofit, and corporate entities. The smart manufacturing project with Motlow is clearly an example as are programs like another Dr. Fidan project profile here on AM News: Additive Manufacturing – Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Or head directly to Dr. Fidan’s profile which lists the many ways that he collaborates with and supports his colleagues at TTU, TEAMM Network Members and other institutions.

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To learn more about the larger ATE program, you can go here. But here is part of the summary of the program from the website:

With an emphasis on two-year Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions (grades 7-12, IHEs) and industry to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary institution school levels. The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways; and other activities. The program invites research proposals that advance the knowledge base related to technician education. It is expected that projects will be faculty driven and that courses and programs credit bearing, although materials developed may also be used for incumbent worker education.

SMARTT or Smart2 project team includes:

  • Khalid Tantawi:  Assistant Professor of Mechatronics in Motlow State Community College, Smyrna, TN
  •  Ismail Fidan: Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
  • Karen Birch: Professor at Tunxis Community College and director of the NSF ATE funded Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, Connecticut.

The goals of the project will be to:

  • Create educational modules and workforce development tools on Smart Manufacturing
  • Identify the skill sets and needs of Smart Manufacturing professionals
  • Develop a repository that serves as a knowledge base for industry and STEM educators
  • Increase awareness about Smart Manufacturing
  • Develop a knowledge base of best practices for Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) site visits

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