An IPPD approach providing a modular framework to closing the capability gap and preparing a 21st century workforce
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The United States are facing a critical workforce challenge, even though current unemployment is around 6.7%, employers find it difficult to find applicants that can satisfy all job requirements. This problem is especially pronounced in the manufacturing sector where a critical skills gap has developed, a problem that is exasperated by workforce demographics. A large number of employees across the various manufacturing sub-disciplines are eligible to retire now or in the near future. This gray tsunami requires swift action as well as long lasting change resulting in a workforce pipeline that can provide Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy not only the needs of STEM industries, but also of those companies outside of the STEM sector that hire STEM graduates. The research shown here will identify overt symptoms describing the capability gap, will identify specific skills describing the gap, educational causes why the gaps has not yet been addressed or is difficult to address, and lastly educational remedies that can contribute to closing the capability gap. A significant body of literature focusing on engineering in higher education has been evaluated and findings will be presented here. A multidisciplinary, collaborative capstone program will be described which implements some of the findings from this study in an active learning environment for students working on distributed teams across the US. Preliminary findings regarding the impact of these measures on the quantity of engineers to the US economy will be evaluated.