Education and Training
In 1919, Drexel University introduced its experiential learning program through cooperative education to support its core mission (formulated at the university’s founding in 1891) of providing practical education that prepares students for careers in new industries, making no restrictions on religion, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Today, Drexel embraces experiential learning through Design, Technology and Entrepreneurship, which mirrors AFFOA’s goal of creating and educating manufacturers of functional fabrics. Significant growth in the functional fabrics industrial sector is challenged by the absence of the highly skilled workforce needed to produce these advanced materials and devices of the future. This problem is part of the broader national challenge to preserve on-shore manufacturing of high-value products that are initially developed and prototyped in the U.S. Lacking a properly trained workforce, companies will invariably consider moving their manufacturing facilities out of the U.S.
We must develop a comprehensive strategy to reverse this trend, with a robust education and workforce development (EWD) plan that aims to train a substantial number and wide variety of domestic functional fabrics workers, such as technicians, machine programmers, engineers, designers, and material scientists. The PA FDC proposes to implement a wide spectrum of transdisciplinary EWD activities to accommodate workers at all career stages. This is under development. Stay tuned for more details.