A grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education will allow the Wright State University College of Engineering and Computer Science to purchase equipment to prepare engineering and computer science students for careers in advanced manufacturing, automation and data science.
Students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and at Lake Campus will be able to use the equipment to hone new skills needed in jobs in in-demand areas of Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 is a new approach that connects manufacturing with automation, big data, data science, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, said Ahsan Mian, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Wright State.
“Industry 4.0 — the new way of manufacturing — is big,” he said. “It’s the new face of manufacturing.”
Mian and Tanvi Banerjee, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, received a grant of $462,601 in RAPIDS (Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills) funds from the State of Ohio to acquire the equipment.
The RAPIDS grant program is designed to encourage collaboration, and funding was also provided to other colleges and universities in Southwest Ohio to train students to support the region, the state, the country and the world, Mian said.
“ODHE is doing a great job of supporting the institutions to create the environment so that we can train these students in the right areas,” he said.
Educating students in automation technology will prepare them for in-demand technical careers.
“A common theme in discussions with local industry partners is the need for well-educated manufacturing engineers in automation and smart manufacturing technologies,” Mian said.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science used the RAPIDS grant to acquire state-of-the-art 3D printers, a self-learning robot, metrology equipment and a large computer cluster.
The equipment will be installed in labs in the Russ Engineering Center and at the Lake Campus over the summer and will be available for the students to use starting in the Fall Semester.
The grant will allow the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to create a Center for Machine Learning and Secure Data Management in West Ohio, which will facilitate parallel computing, secure data storage and processing, visualization and analytics of big data.
“There is a high demand for data scientists across all the employment sectors including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Banerjee said.
The department will purchase a large computing cluster that allows simultaneous high-volume data processing that can then help analyze big datasets.
“Multiple courses in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering will leverage this framework to teach cutting-edge technologies to our students who will then have more lucrative career options locally as well as nationwide,” Banerjee said.
Michael Raymer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said that more data is generated every day than in an entire year just 20 years ago, leading to a large demand for professionals who can curate, protect, analyze and understand large data sets.
“Cloud computing, big data analytics, machine learning and cybersecurity are some of the fastest-growing areas of computer science, and the RAPIDS award will provide students studying these fields at Wright State with state-of-the-art facilities for their classes and research,” Raymer said.
The new equipment will be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate courses in mechanical engineering and computer science and engineering. A course at the Lake Campus will train students in robotics and robotic welding. Graduate students can use the equipment for their theses as a way to demonstrate their proficiency in the technology.
The equipment could allow the College of Engineering and Computer Science to offer new courses, including a class in semiconductor manufacturing, and a new degree program in manufacturing.
“In the long run we want to offer a new program in advanced manufacturing” and offer new undergraduate degrees in manufacturing by utilizing the new equipment, Mian said.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science also plans to offer short certificate courses to provide training to local employees in additive manufacturing, metrology, advanced computer-aided manufacturing, cybersecurity and data science.
The grant marks the fifth round of RAPIDS funding the College of Engineering and Computer Science has received. The two most recent grants have supported training in students in manufacturing, robotics and computing.
Mian said securing the grants is just another way Wright State helps students develop the skills they need to excel in their careers.
“My goal is to have our students develop the expertise so that when they go out to industry, they have the right knowledge and skill,” he said.