The ChE in Context: Educating the Future Advanced Manufacturing Workforce

July
,
2018

According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office, manufacturing contributes almost $2.2 trillion per year to the U.S. gross domestic product and employs 9% of the nation’s workforce. For every dollar spent in manufacturing, $1.81 is added to the U.S. economy. Moreover, the manufacturing sector accounts for 30% of U.S. energy use and about 75% of all U.S. patents.

Maintaining innovation and competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing is essential to the nation’s prosperity. Recognizing this need, AIChE and its Public Affairs and Information Committee (PAIC) have identified advanced manufacturing as a priority issue for chemical engineering.

The U.S. manufacturing base faces a looming challenge. A 2015 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute revealed that, of the 12.5 million people employed in manufacturing today, about 3.5 million will retire in the next 10 years. As a result, 3.5 million new workers will be needed to replace manufacturing retirees. However, two million of those jobs are expected to go unfilled due to skills gaps, unless aggressive workforce development programs are established.

Desired skill sets for industry employees are evolving along with manufacturing. Even as the manufacturing sector’s “contract with society” is to build a sustainable and robust workforce,...

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