RET Site in Manufacturing Simulation and Automation

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site in Manufacturing Simulation and Automation at Penn State Behrend (PSB) will engage regional high school teachers and community college instructors in manufacturing simulation and automation cutting-edge research, to help improve STEM skills and manufacturing education in their classrooms. Over a three-year period, the site will offer an intensive 6-week summer research program to a total of 36 teachers and college instructors from schools and community colleges in the Erie metropolitan area covering counties in the Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio tristate region. The RET participants will gain first-hand experience by participating in intensive research activities to develop effective curriculum modules and engage their own students in authentic experiences in science and engineering. The project outcomes will be aligned with the educational standards and the training needs of modern manufacturing.

Over a 6-week period each summer, PSB will host a cohort of 12 high school teachers and community college faculty participants from schools and community colleges that encompass a diverse population and underrepresented groups of students. The program goals are to: 1) provide a STEM-based platform at Behrend to engage high school teachers and community college instructors in state-of-the-art manufacturing research, 2) explore a sustainable educational model that connects high schools, community colleges, university, and industry to instill future generations with greater awareness and interest in manufacturing, 3) facilitate the development of curricular modules, classroom activities, and other classroom instructional materials that will be implemented in the participating schools and colleges and also disseminated to a broader audience nationally, and 4) help fill the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing and prepare school and college students in the Erie metropolitan area for undergraduate studies and/or jobs in manufacturing. The project focuses on teaching manufacturing using simulation and automation and it consists of five main activities; each representing a manufacturing paradigm. The participants will develop skills in manufacturing as well as project management, scientific writing, and academic presentation. The knowledge will be conveyed to students through hands-on experiments and classroom activities. In addition, the RET team will help participating schools and community colleges to create manufacturing student clubs, identify the missions, and provide activity support. This, in turn, will influence the students to consider careers in manufacturing fields. It is expected that over 6,000 students will benefit from the proposed program. The developed materials and activities will be evaluated and revised every year based on pre/post survey results, as well as feedback from PSB designated external evaluators and industry advisors. To reach out to a broader audience, the site experiences will be shared via online education platforms for public access and nationwide RET symposiums. With an already highly developed K-12 infrastructure and network in place at PSB as well as the newly established Advanced Manufacturing & Innovation Center (AMIC) and a defined focus on research and industry collaboration, this site has the potential to have a transformative effect on research and instruction across the full educational spectrum.

Effective start/end date10/1/1712/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $567,325.00


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