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Purdue and Accenture Partner to Support Smart Manufacturing

The university and professional services company have teamed up to launch a new smart manufacturing collaborative space and scholarship program to generate more career-ready graduates in the field.

Smart students using a 3D printer and a laptop, engineering and prototyping concept
Purdue University and the professional services company Accenture have partnered to expand training and networking opportunities for students interested in smart manufacturing careers amid growing demand for qualified applicants in the field, a recent announcement said.

According to a news release from Purdue, the partnership will give the university access to funding for a new Accenture Smart Factory, a collection of instructional laboratories and design studios in Dudley Hall where students from across disciplines in the College of Engineering and Purdue Polytechnic Institute can collaborate on smart manufacturing projects involving artificial intelligence, the cloud, robotics and 5G to build products.

The announcement said the partnership will also support the Accenture Smart Manufacturing Scholars Program, which will award scholarships to qualified students every year for up to four years, as well as the Women in Manufacturing scholarship to attract more women to smart manufacturing-related fields to make them more representative.

“With the Accenture Smart Factory and the Accenture Manufacturing Scholars Program, we can prepare more students for exciting future careers in smart manufacturing,” Daniel Castro, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said in a public statement. “At the same time, this venture allows Purdue to meet the needs of our partners in industry who are desperately seeking career-ready graduates with the skills we will teach in this new facility.”

According to the announcement, industry experts think the U.S. needs more workers with requisite knowledge and skills for smart manufacturing than it's producing, even though “fast-track workforce training programs,” similar to IT boot camps established in recent years by universities and workforce development programs, are helping to fill the tech talent gap.

Aaron Saint, who heads Accenture’s digital engineering and manufacturing service Industry X, noted in the announcement that “factories of the future will rely on automation, data analysis and digital twin replicas to enhance productivity, safety and quality,” and they'll need a workforce with related skills.

“The Accenture Smart Factory will provide the right platform for innovation in this next era, and this collaboration with Purdue will equip tomorrow’s workforce with the skills they need for a successful career in digital manufacturing,” Saint said in a public statement.