Advancing manufacturing education through learning simulations

Erik Verlage headshot outside

As education continues to evolve and technologies advance, learning simulations can be at the forefront of these changes.

The Ohio State University's Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) is working to create digital learning tools and interactive simulations for advanced manufacturing education, with a primary focus on developing workforce training software, including educational games and virtual reality training simulations.

Erik Verlage, PhD, recently joined CDME as a research scientist and is one of the principal investigators on a new workforce project that includes building digital learning tools and simulations for students in manufacturing. The University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) leads the project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Manufacturing@MIT Working Group is building online learning content. Ohio State’s CDME is a key collaborator and will create digital interactive experiences for students.

“One key advantage of going digital is to give students a safe environment to practice their skills,” said Verlage. “We can throw students into training scenarios that would be difficult to create in the real world and let them try out different problem-solving strategies.”

The project will provide community college students with an additional 1-year certification beyond the associate degree. The intent is to develop digital learning content, online videos, exercises, simulations, hands-on labs and work-learn opportunities to further upskill technicians. The intended outcome is to create an intermediary “technologist” position between technician and engineer, thereby creating mid- level positions within the industry.

Over the next two years, the team plans to make six simulations. The first simulation focuses on statistical process control, providing users with an immersive environment to learn about data collection, run and control charts, histograms, and other statistical methods. The goal is to create an interactive and dynamic 3D environment that will challenge learners to develop a deeper understanding of the tools and manufacturing processes.

“The project represents a forward-looking approach to manufacturing education,” said Verlage. “We’re using the power of learning simulations to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

By: Sarah Lowenthal, CDME marketing and communications student assistant

Category: Research