By El Mundo Boston
Boston — Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) has launched a Bachelor of Science program in Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) in response to the growing need for skilled workers in the Massachusetts manufacturing economy. It is the only full-time daytime MET program in Massachusetts. Classes will begin this fall.
Baccalaureate graduates in this field are often referred to as mechanical engineering technologists. These professionals create sketches, rough layouts, and CAD drawings, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report their findings to mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineering technologists help with manufacturing processes on the shop floor, or with development phases in research and development labs before manufacturing takes place. Nationally, the re-manufacturing of legacy components and alternative energies are growing fields, which will lead to further employment opportunities for MET graduates.
“The skills gap, both locally and nationally, is a serious issue. There is a lack of engineering and machining talent entering the workforce,” said Michael Tamasi, President & CEO of AccuRounds. “Not only are engineers and CNC machinists needed for manufacturers to grow their operation, they are also needed to replace an aging workforce. Higher education focused on preparing professionals for advanced manufacturing careers is vital to the future of our economy. Business relies on educational institutions to help fill this critical pipeline need.”
In Massachusetts, manufacturing accounts for approximately 250,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000. Manufacturing still employs 50 percent more workers than all the banks and insurance companies in the state; double the number of workers in wholesale trade; nearly three times as many as in information services; and nearly six times as many as in all of the arts, entertainment, and recreation firms in the Commonwealth. Yet, according to a survey of over 700 manufacturers in the state, advances in manufacturing are being hampered by a lack of skilled craftsmen (Twenty-five-percent stated it was difficult to recruit research and development technicians).
“Manufacturing has become a knowledge industry in the region as manufacturers continue to boost innovation, productivity, and competitiveness,” said Anthony Benoit, BFIT President. “As the manufacturing industry evolves and expands, so do job opportunities for our graduates. These high-skill jobs are critical to the state’s economy and essential to improving the value added by the state’s manufacturers. This program will be a pipeline of manufacturing professionals to meet the needs of our industry partners.”
BFIT’s current two-year degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology provides students with the technical fundamentals to support manufacturing. The bachelor’s program offers a more detailed and specialized knowledge in the discipline as well as skills in communication, information literacy, and problem solving. Upper-class students also have greater opportunity to explore the link between management, quality systems, and technical production.
“The coursework in the upper level courses enable students to move from being a technician to a technologist. As a technologist, graduates will work more closely with engineers and may also serve in a management role overseeing technicians,” said Joanna Dowling, Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. “Technologists are able to more effectively demonstrate the synergies between quality systems, advanced manufacturing, lean manufacturing, and design and management.”
Mechanical engineering technicians and technologists also work for firms in engineering services and in research & development. Nationally, mechanical engineering technicians are expected to find broader opportunities in the expanding fields of re-manufacturing legacy components and alternative energy.