“We need to incorporate quality education into manufacturing training programs.”

Global Opportunity Forum hosts AMDev team from Philippines as part of USAID-funded project.

MIT Open Learning
MIT Open Learning
3 min readMay 29, 2024

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A group of people stand outside the Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School.
Photo: Essex Tech

By Global Opportunity Forum

For the last year, the Global Opportunity Forum (GOF) at MIT Open Learning has been building workforce development ecosystems for advanced manufacturing in the Philippines in collaboration with Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance (AMDev), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development to teach indispensable advanced manufacturing skills to Filipino workers.

GOF recently hosted members of the AMDev team from the Philippines for a benchmarking trip: a week of workshops and site visits to learn how Massachusetts has been building its own workforce development ecosystem.

“As we’ve been working on an ecosystem in the Philippines, this benchmarking visit has been great for learning about the inspiring work already being done in Massachusetts,” said Elizabeth Aristorenas, executive director of the Unilab Foundation in the Philippines, a corporate foundation leading AMDev.

At MIT’s Cambridge campus, the AMDev team participated in workshops with leading experts in advanced manufacturing education from MIT and other invited organizations around Massachusetts.

The AMDev team also got off MIT’s campus for site visits with the cutting-edge manufacturer Innovent Technologies and Essex Tech, an adult education provider that offers advanced-manufacturing training and education. Innovent and Essex Tech have also worked together on building education programs that teach skills that lead to jobs in manufacturing.

“The visit to Innovent Technologies and Essex Tech drove home how important it is for manufacturers and schools to work together on delivering the right skills to the right people,” said George Westerman, founder of the GOF. “They offer a model to strive for.”

Back at MIT, the AMDev team participated in multiple workshops, including one with John Liu, principal investigator and director of MIT’s Learning Engineering and Practice Group. Liu shared his recent work on developing a new curriculum for manufacturing technologists — a step up from technicians — in collaboration with public universities and colleges across the U.S. Liu’s project on manufacturing education was recently awarded funding through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) program.

“With increasing technological sophistication, the quickening pace of technology change, and ever-tightening standards, we need to incorporate quality education into manufacturing training programs,” Liu recently said as he commented on the IBAS-funded program for MIT News.

The AMDev team also attended a workshop with Meghan Abella-Bowen, senior program manager at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Massachusetts. Abella-Bowen spoke about how workforce development has been integral to an overall strategy for supporting innovation and strengthening supply chains in Massachusetts.

CAM has been working to create “a coordinated system that attracts, trains, and retains skilled talent in advanced manufacturing,” Abella-Bowen explained during a presentation for the AMDev team.

The AMDev team also received insider tours of MIT’s campus, visiting buildings and labs where students work with advanced manufacturing and other technologies, offering a vision for what hands-on learning could look like.

Among the MIT facilities that the team visited were the Nano Lab, Media Lab, and Area 51, a fabrication facility with advanced manufacturing equipment accessible to student clubs and teams.

By the end of the visit, the AMDev team got more than a taste of MIT’s mens et manus culture, which translates to mind and hand.

“At MIT students learn two things: to look under the hood and to look over the horizon,” said Vijay Kumar, senior advisor at MIT Open Learning, as he welcomed the AMDev team to MIT. “But most importantly, MIT students are ready to do things.”

Originally published at https://gof.mit.edu/.

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