Addressing the skills gap with Purdue University

The skills gap in science and technology is an issue affecting industry on a global scale. Now a new partnership between Purdue University in the USA and Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division is making a difference. Read on to find out more and make sure to check out the video with Purdue University’s Professor Paul McPherson

Have you ever looked at a timeline of scientific discoveries? It’s a fascinating way to spend a rainy lunch break. Look closely and you’ll notice certain trends.

The earliest discoveries are thousands, even tens of thousands of years apart. The first stone tools are thought to date from around 3 million years ago. When we talk about the stone age, we normally mean around 10,000 years B.C. Then there’s the bronze age (2,500 B.C.) and the Iron age (700 B.C.)

After that, important advances come at an ever-increasing rate. One discovery paves the way for many others. We’ve had more scientific discoveries that have radically changed the world in the past 100 years, than in the past 10,000 years put together.

With a rate of change like that, it’s no wonder we’re experiencing a global skills gap in science and technology.

Purdue university, West Lafayette, Indiana, is one of the top public universities in the USA (and the world) and it’s been addressing the skills gap since its foundation in 1869. A look at their notable alumni shows that they’ve been doing an extremely good job. The list includes astronauts, top scientists, researchers and world leaders in just about every field.

They know better than most that addressing the skills gap means forging relationships between educational institutions and industry. That way we can make sure that students are learning the skills that employers need. That’s the thinking behind a new partnership between Purdue University and Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division.

Purdue University gives students hands on experience with industry standard machines

Paul McPherson is an associate professor of practice at Purdue’s School of Engineering Technology. With the help of an educational equipment grant, Paul contacted Hexagon and managed to acquire a couple of 4.5.4 bridge CMMs (coordinate measuring machines) and one of the 6 axis Absolute arms. These are precisely the sorts of machines students are likely to encounter when they graduate and go on to further research or find jobs in industry. The university installed the machines into their metrology lab integrating the new equipment into the teaching and research activities.

Feedback from the students has been universally positive. Cameron Lewis is a senior student on the Machanical Engineering Technology (MET) programme:

“Hexagon machines in the MET metrology lab have given me great hands-on experience with industry standard equipment. Now I’m familiar with PC-DMIS and metrology equipment, I feel prepared to use these technologies in industry.

It’s given me deeper understanding of GD&T and its applications in quality engineering. As somebody very interested in a career in metrology, I would have never found my interest in metrology without the class utilising the Hexagon CMMs. I now have certifications and experience that will help me with my future careers.”


Students will gain qualifications on PC-DMIS

The university has integrated the machines into the senior level Quality for Manufacturing course and developed a new course offering students a level 1 certification in PC-DMIS for CMMs and PC-DMIS for portable metrology devices, like the Absolute Arms.

After graduating from Purdue in 2021, Eric Kozikowski was taken on by MxD (the digital manufacturing and cybersecurity institute) as a systems integration engineer:

“Taking the class has helped to solidify my understanding of GD&T and apply my theoretical knowledge of metrology and quality inspections to my career. Hexagon’s certifications have added additional credibility to my resume and enabled me to work as a metrology SME in my organization.”


For more information about the School of Engineering Technology at Purdue University, including their academic programmes and research areas, visit the webpage here.


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