Enrollment opens for UB-led MOOCs on digital manufacturing and design

Kenneth English, deputy director of SMART at UB, films an introduction to one of the digital manufacturing and design courses at Moog Inc. Behind the camera is J. Michael Vick, digital media producer at Full Circle Studios. Photo: Tracy Puckett.

The online courses will help bolster Buffalo’s status as a nationwide leader in advanced manufacturing

Release Date: January 18, 2017

Liesl Folks

“For decades universities and factories were worlds apart, but the speed of innovation is drawing them closer and closer.”
Liesl Folks, dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. Enrollment has opened for the first three University at Buffalo developed online courses focused on harnessing data to make American factories more efficient and competitive.

The courses, part of a 10-course “101” series called Digital Manufacturing and Design Technology, are massive open online courses (MOOCs) created in partnership with the Chicago-based Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).

At UB, the effort is being led by Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE), the business outreach center of UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in coordination with SMART (Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies) Community of Excellence, the Center for Educational Innovation and industry partners.

Developed for students and workers, the curriculum will be available on the Coursera platform starting Jan. 30. It is designed to introduce a broad range of digital manufacturing and design technologies, and demonstrate how they can be used throughout a product’s lifecycle. It includes 40 hours of instruction, assessments, peer interactions and a final project.

TCIE designed the curriculum with UB faculty and industry partners, including Siemens PLM, SME, the Association for Manufacturing Technology, Moog Inc. and Buffalo Manufacturing Works. The effort was funded with a $380,000 award from DMDII and UI LABS.

“Workforce development is critical to maintaining American manufacturing competitiveness,” said Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO of UI LABS. “It is also important that the collaborative knowledge DMDII gains through university, industry, startup and government collaboration reaches as many people as possible.”

The course modules introduce digital manufacturing and design technologies, which use data to connect and improve each stage of the manufacturing process. For example, one module will explain how to upgrade legacy machines so they capture information about their production and performance. Another module on cyber-physical security will cover how to ensure these internet-connected devices are protected from hacking.

After completing the series, known as a “specialization,” participants will earn a certificate in digital manufacturing and design.

“For decades universities and factories were worlds apart, but the speed of innovation is drawing them closer and closer,” said Liesl Folks, PhD, dean of the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Creating first-of-its-kind, impactful curriculum on digital manufacturing is an important step in strengthening and retraining our manufacturing employment base.”

Timothy Leyh, executive director of TCIE, is the program manager of the MOOC and the principal investigator is Kemper Lewis, PhD, director of SMART, and professor and chair of UB's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Launched in May 2015, SMART paved the way for UB becoming a Tier 1 member of DMDII, joining a consortium of fellow academic institutions, companies, nonprofits and government entities in pursuit of contributing to the future of digital manufacturing. In addition to engineering, SMART is co-led by the UB School of Architecture and Planning, and its affiliated faculty members come from across university disciplines.

Individual course content, including videos and readings, can be accessed at no cost; the fee to enroll in the series, with access to all assignments and the opportunity to earn a specialization completion certificate, is $49 per month. To enroll, visit Coursera.org, create an account, and register for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Technology Specialization.


UI LABS brings University + Industry together with startups and government to collaborate on problems too big for any one organization to solve on its own. UI LABS is building a portfolio of applied research and commercialization labs that improve its partners’ competitiveness and financial performance, and transform entire industries. Across its current labs, UI LABS has more than 300 members from industry, government, community organizations, and academic and research institutions. Learn more at www.uilabs.org.

In February 2014, UI LABS announced the formation of its first lab, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), in partnership with the Department of Defense, to transform American manufacturing through the digitization of the supply chain. DMDII's goal is to provide U.S. factories with the tools, software and expertise they need to build things more efficiently, less expensively, and more quickly, so they can win more business and bring jobs back to the United States. Learn more at www.dmdii.org.

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