New $3-million program could help close skills gap in advanced manufacturing

A skills gap that could leave as many as 2 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2025 is one of the driving forces behind a new Clemson University program that for the first time matches graduate students with technical college students on an assembly line built for research.

The new program, THINKER, is the first in the nation to bring together graduate students and technical college students in an advanced manufacturing program centered on education and research.

It is backed by $3 million from the National Science Foundation and is aimed at creating well-prepared leaders who can help close the skills gap in advanced manufacturing. By goring through the program, those leaders will understand the interaction of machines, people and data, organizers said.

Economic expansion and baby boomer retirements will likely create a need to fill 3.4 million manufacturing jobs in the nation between 2015 and 2025, but only 1.4 million are likely to be adequately filled, according to a study by Deloitte and the The Manufacturing Institute.

It’s a crucial issue for South Carolina, where the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says manufacturing accounts for 17 percent of the economy, which is more than 50 percent higher than the national average.

Clemson is responding with a portfolio of research, education, and partnership programs, including THINKER, that are coming together under the Clemson University Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

THINKER is an acronym for Technology- Human INtegrated Knowledge, Education and Research.

Click here to read the entire public release from Clemson University on the EurekAlert website.

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