On October 6, 2023, Cal State Fullerton hosted its eighth Manufacturing Day, joining others across the nation in celebrating modern manufacturing and demonstrating the importance of manufacturing industries to the economy and society. At CSUF, 450 attendees – including close to 400 K-12 students, students, and faculty members from CSUF; industry leaders; and members of the community – participated in engaging workshops, interactive exhibits, and guided tours of state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, witnessing firsthand the innovative technologies and processes shaping the industry.
Industry experts and professors led inspiring and informative discussions, encouraging students to explore the varied career paths available in manufacturing and fostering connections with potential employers. Manufacturing Day promotes collaboration between academia and the manufacturing community in a shared effort to maintain the growth and competitiveness of the industry in the region and beyond.
Participating companies included Hexagon AB, Deloitte, Caltrans, Quality Engineering Management, Inc., SRI International, Altair, Source Graphics, and Curtiss-Wright. The keynote speaker was Wendy Frank, principal, Cyber & Strategic Risk, Deloitte.
The 2023 event’s theme was “GreenTech” manufacturing, highlighting the pivotal role the combination of environmentally conscious principles and practices and advanced technologies will play in shaping the future of manufacturing.
“The goal of this year’s event was to instill a deep appreciation for the role of sustainability and innovation in manufacturing among our attendees, as well as to call attention to the many opportunities available in the field of sustainable manufacturing and the technologies that are shaping its future,” says Sagil James, lead instructor for the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Certificate Program and associate professor of mechanical engineering at the College of Engineering & Computer Science.
This year’s theme was significant and timely for a variety of reasons, James says, including the growing global awareness of environmental issues, like climate change and resource depletion; sustainable manufacturing’s potential economic and social impacts; the introduction of technologies that enable eco-friendly manufacturing; and the quest to remain competitive in the global market.
“The manufacturing industry is a significant contributor to environmental challenges, and the need for sustainable practices to reduce its ecological footprint is pressing,” James says. “Sustainable manufacturing practices can have a positive economic impact by reducing waste, lowering energy consumption, and improving resource efficiency, as well as leading to the creation of green jobs and contributing to social well-being. Sustainability is no longer just a trend; it’s a competitive advantage, and innovations in manufacturing technologies have made it possible to integrate sustainable practices into production processes.”
Empowering the Pipeline Early
At Manufacturing Day, several K-12 school districts were represented from within Orange County and beyond, including Anaheim Union High School District, Fullerton Joint Union High School District, Tustin Unified School District, Santa Ana Unified School District, Los Alamitos Unified School District, and others.
“This program enhances the competitiveness of graduates by offering a valuable credential signifying expertise in advanced manufacturing, which is highly relevant to industries relying on modern manufacturing practices.”
Sagil James, lead instructor for the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Certificate Program and associate professor of mechanical engineering at the College of Engineering & Computer Science
Attendance by local students was especially meaningful in light of the “Pathways for Careers in Manufacturing and Engineering” project, which received a $211,000 grant from the Orange County Department of Education earlier this year. This collaborative project between Cal State Fullerton Extension and International Programs and ECS has been designed to create streamlined pathways from high school to postsecondary education and into the manufacturing workforce. James is co-directing the project with Debbie Vengco, director of marketing and enrollment management for Extension and International Programs.
James says the project will set the stage for preparing the next-generation smart manufacturing workforce and help develop technology-rich innovative learning environments that inspire K-12 students to explore manufacturing careers.
A Look at the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Certificate Program
By showcasing the practical applications of advanced manufacturing and its role in shaping the future of industry, Manufacturing Day also spotlights ECS’s own Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Certificate Program.
The AMEC program is currently offered through CSUF Extensions and International Programs. Launched in the fall of 2021, it is designed to complement other engineering degrees by providing specialized knowledge in advanced manufacturing technologies and processes.
“This program enhances the competitiveness of graduates by offering a valuable credential signifying expertise in advanced manufacturing, which is highly relevant to industries relying on modern manufacturing practices,” James says. “It equips engineering students with interdisciplinary skills and practical insights, enabling them to excel in roles related to manufacturing engineering, automation, and more.”
The program is offered on a cohort basis, and each cohort varies from 10 to 30 students per semester. The students are a mix of CSUF graduates, CSUF students, other college grads, and early career professionals.
The program prepares students for successful careers in the present and future of manufacturing by providing contemporary knowledge of advanced manufacturing technologies, fostering interdisciplinary skills, facilitating industry engagement, emphasizing problem-solving abilities, promoting adaptability to emerging technologies, and facilitating valuable networking opportunities.
As the college moves forward with its planned new building, the ECS Innovation Hub, advanced manufacturing will be a major focus due to its substantial economic impact, job creation potential, technological advancements, and alignment with the hub’s mission of fostering innovation and collaboration.
“Manufacturing plays a critical role in many sectors of our economy – like aerospace, automotive, and biomedical engineering, to name a few – and we have a responsibility to provide the knowledge and experience our graduates will need to confidently work in those arenas,” says ECS Dean Susan Barua. “Advanced manufacturing also lends itself to the interdisciplinary collaboration we seek to encourage within the Innovation Hub.”
A Program Poised for Growth
“Its fast-paced growth and increasing demand for skilled professionals underscore the ECS Innovation Hub’s importance, positioning it to prepare students and professionals for a future where manufacturing excellence is essential for economic competitiveness and sustainability,” James adds.
Research and learning opportunities in advanced manufacturing span diverse domains such as additive manufacturing, IoT-driven digital twins (virtual replicas of physical devices used for simulations), robotics, sustainable manufacturing, materials science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity, supply chain optimization, biomanufacturing, and workforce development.
Short-term goals for expanding advanced manufacturing programming within the CSUF Innovation Hub include expanding curricular enhancements to align with industry trends, establishing industry partnerships for hands-on experiences, increasing student engagement through practical activities, and initiating research initiatives.
Long-term goals involve expanding program offerings to include specialized tracks – like electric vehicle manufacturing, biomanufacturing, and cyber manufacturing, developing state-of-the-art facilities, contributing to regional industry growth, and attaining national recognition as a leader in advanced manufacturing education and research.
“Whether through the development of cutting-edge materials, the integration of smart technologies, or the pursuit of sustainable and efficient manufacturing practices, advanced manufacturing provides a dynamic landscape for research and education, with the potential to shape the future of industries and the workforce,” James says.