As more industries depend on additive manufacturing (AM), studies show there is a widening gap between these advanced solutions and the number of skilled workers who know how to use them. Experts predict a shortage of skilled workers will lead to millions of unfilled jobs in design, engineering and manufacturing. Part of the problem is new applicants are short of experience and missing technical competencies.
Currently, not enough students are graduating with the right knowledge or the ability to adapt as the pace of innovation accelerates. Students entering the workforce may know what 3D printing is, but the majority have very little practical experience in the skills industry demands.
Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) has taken the step towards giving students AM experience that’s above and beyond tinkering on consumer-grade 3D printers. They are now offering students certification in additive on professional-grade 3D printers through the Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification program.
We sat down with lead instructor Steve Chomyszak at WIT to find out how certification is benefiting students and the school.
Can you share a brief overview of how you incorporate certification content into your course?
WIT has created a dedicated course utilizing the Stratasys curriculum and materials for the purpose of providing education, training and certification to our students in the field of AM.
How does this fit in the WIT curriculum for engineering?
WIT has always been laser focused on hands-on education. As part of that education, we maintain CNC machining, fabrication, welding and foundry facilities for our students. We are currently building a dedicated Additive Manufacturing Center which is a perfect fit with the AM certification course.
What is the profile of most of your students in the class?
Currently our students are full-time day students from a variety of engineering, design and computer majors. The addition of our new AM Center will allow us to expand our course offerings to our continuing and professional education students as well.
How are students reacting to the certification content?
We offer certification courses in other topics, so our students are quite receptive and eager to participate in a certification course focused on AM.
What kind of benefits does certification provide for students?
Certification, in general, provides our students with experience and accomplishment recognized by industry experts. This is one of several things that we do at WIT to make our students highly sought after employees.
What does certification provide for your institution?
Certification helps WIT to become a collaborator with our industry partners, which further strengthens our reputation for producing work-ready engineers.
Do you think certification will be important to employers?
Certification represents a certain standard of education that employers can trust. The AM industry is approaching its ‘knee’ and there will be more and more demand for engineers who can design components to take advantage of AM, and technicians who have the skills to prepare, set up and operate AM equipment. Certification in this area will help the industry by establishing its own specific standard of education from which it can influence the preparation of future employees.
What are some success stories of graduating seniors who have achieved certification?
The AM course taught at WIT has provided inspiration for a few of our students to begin studies at the graduate level in AM. We also have students who are now employees at some of our Boston-based AM companies.