Carnegie Mellon University


February 15, 2019

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) partners with Carnegie Mellon University’s NREC and CMRA to grow a skilled, technical workforce.

Today’s accelerating pace of technology advancement and innovation shape the kinds of jobs Americans can do, and raise the qualifications needed to obtain and keep those jobs. This is especially true in manufacturing.

To address these workforce development issues, ARM is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and the Robotics Academy (CMRA), who have developed a multipronged solution called SMART. This Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics Training program leverages the CS-STEM Network (CS2N), an inexpensive, custom-built LMS that is flexible, robust, and allows new content to be easily integrated. It will update existing pre-apprenticeship community-college level certification and associate degree programs to address the evolving needs of ARM industry members.

Vu Nguyen is the educational lead on the project and Co-Director of the CMRA. “CMRA will develop a pipeline of ARM industry technicians via partnerships with ARM’s members that will train and certify thousands of students,” said Nguyen. “This way, we empower the American workforce by providing them with foundational knowledge, skills, and attributes that prepare them to work in an economy impacted by disruptive technologies and enable them to adapt to change when it happens.”

The Director of NREC, Dr. Herman Herman, makes NREC staff and technicians available to the project. “Our staff has decades of electromechanical systems technical experience and are subject matter experts,” said Dr. Herman. “We will address existing gaps in current pre-apprenticeship certification programs so that they align with the needs of ARM members, and then develop a long-term sustainability plan enabling ongoing SMART development.”

“ARM is addressing a number of focused challenges as we prepare workers in the United States to thrive in the new environment created by the advances in manufacturing,” said Steve Catt, ARM’s Deputy Director for Education and Workforce Development. “SMART not only recruits new talent into these needed fields but can upgrade the skill of our current workforce.”

Other SMART program benefits include customizable online training materials that are available 24/7, micro-certifications that guide students toward a certification, the ability for instructors to create classes, and automated assessment features that enable instructors to track students’ progress. Instructors access a feature that enables them to endorse students’ work, along with peer assessment tools, which have proven to be a very strong teaching tool. Badge/certification earners are able to share their achievements via social networks, with employers, on personal web pages, or with their friends.

 ARM members overwhelmingly support the program and are eager to collaborate and commit resources. Nadja Koehler, Account Manager of Education at ABB, says, “As advanced robotic manufacturing and the use of other smart technologies evolve it is critical that we have a skilled workforce to support robotic systems innovation and integration.”

“We’re proud to partner with NREC and ARM, through the SMART program, to develop innovative training opportunities that help address the technology skills gap,” says Susie Puskar, Director of Youth Innovation at Partner4Work, the workforce development board for the Pittsburgh area. “This program, supported by a PA Strategic Innovation Grant, will teach young adults 21st-century skills that meet area employers’ technology needs.”

Paul Anselmo, President, and CEO of Pittsburgh’s New Century Careers believes that “SMART and programs like SMART are important if our nation wants to empower the American workforce.”

About ARM – Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) is the nation’s leading collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation.  Structured as a public-private partnership, we accelerate transformative robotic technologies and education to increase U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness. Founded in January 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA by Carnegie Mellon University, and funded by the Department of Defense, ARM is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. Learn more at