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Education Readiness Levels (ERLs): A Scale for Assessing Educational Coursework and Training Modules

[+] Author Affiliations
Shantanab Dinda, Timothy W. Simpson

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

Leanne Gluck

America Makes, Youngstown, OH

Paper No. DETC2017-68086, pp. V003T04A009; 14 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 19th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 14th International Conference on Design Education; 10th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 6–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5815-8
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


There is renewed interest in workforce development and manufacturing education/training thanks to the establishment of the Manufacturing USA Institutes, originally called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMIs). As part of their efforts to bridge the gap between basic research and technology commercialization, these institutes are nurturing curriculum development and outreach activities related to their technological foci. As community colleges and universities scramble to respond to the increased demand for a highly-educated workforce with specific advanced manufacturing skills, the institutes are struggling to assess the educational artefacts that are being developed as part of their research funding to educate and (re)train the workforce. In this paper, we introduce Education Readiness Levels (ERLs) to evaluate the “readiness” of educational artefacts — courses, programs, modules, lesson plans, and hands-on activities — based on seven critical elements: class size, cost, instructors, depth of content, facilities, target audience and course material. We define 10 readiness levels for each element (0–9), and codify each level by extending the corresponding scale on the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) or Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL). Using our ERLs, courses can be evaluated based on the scores for each element, identifying areas performing well and those that need improvement. The ERLs are represented graphically, allowing for easy comparison between courses and established targets. One can also measure progress using the ERLs, especially for courses and training modules of upcoming areas of manufacturing. To demonstrate the scale, we apply the ERLs to several funded projects from America Makes, the first Manufacturing USA Institute, whose focus is on 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Education



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