Officials from Purdue University and Ireland-based Accenture say a newly-formed smart manufacturing partnership is necessary to provide exposure and experience as students prepare for next-generation manufacturing jobs. The partners on Monday detailed the five-year effort, which will include establishing the Accenture Smart Factory on the West Lafayette campus. A Women in Manufacturing scholarship is also being implemented to attract more women to the industry.
Shiv Iyer, Accenture’s market unit lead for the Midwest, tells Inside INdiana Business the goal is to keep the workforce in line with new technologies.
“When you think about what everybody talks about as Industry 4.0, which brings together physical manufacturing with technologies, with robotics, with data and analytics and innovation, that is the future of smart manufacturing, and I think this project is all about that,” said Iyer. “When you think about the role Purdue has in driving the next generation of workforce and graduates who are focused on all of these disciplines together, that is exactly the kind of partnership that we were looking for.”
The Accenture Smart Factory will focus on students in Purdue’s College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
The initiative began this semester, and Professor Ragu Athinarayanan from the university’s School of Engineering Technology, says the effort builds on Purdue’s Smart Manufacturing Industrial Informatics degree program.
“What students can experience is how industry 4.0 has impacted how manufacturing does business and will do business going forward. Having a partner like Accenture will help bridge the gap between what is academia today and what is expected out of [students] going into the workforce.”
Athinarayanan says the university is in the process of equipping the facilities for the program, which is expected to be complete by next summer.
Iyer says the partnership is just a starting point for Accenture.
“It’s a long-term commitment for us, a commitment that we hope will drive a lot of innovation for our clients, will drive a pipeline of highly workforce-ready talent not just for us, but also for our clients,” he said.
Daniel Castro, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, says the partners are already looking at ways to expand the program beyond the West Lafayette campus into community colleges and even high schools.
Iyer says that type of growth is also important for Accenture.
“As we look towards the workforce of the future, not all jobs, whether it’s manufacturing or other areas, require a four-year degree. So, we see this as a model that can expand, and we’re already proving that in areas like cybersecurity. So, we see this as a way to expand and create career pathways.”
Castro adds the partners are focusing on the Women in Manufacturing scholarship.
“Hopefully, we can continue growing that segment and also affect more minorities, improving the resilience in this sector, which is so critical not only for the state of Indiana, but for the country and the world.”