MIT and U.S. Department of Defense team up to launch new edX learning platform | MIT News

MIT has pioneered many e-learning solutions and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken note. MIT and DoD have teamed up to launch a new edX learning platform,

In the last decade, the DoD has launched nine public-private manufacturing institutes to boost the American advanced manufacturing industry in areas such as additive manufacturing, robotics, photonics, functional fabrics, and biofabrication. An important part of the mission of the institutes is the development of the workforce, which includes online learning. To that end, the DoD has commissioned the MIT Initiative for Manufacturing Knowledge and Innovation (IKIM) to advocate for an Open edX platform for the nine DoD institutes and the larger advanced technology community.

IKIM leads the educational and work effort of the AIM Photonics manufacturing institute and has just launched the first two courses on the new platform, on photonic integrated circuit sensors (PICs) and on tests of passive integrated photonics devices. Leading research scientist Anu Agarwal and Professor Juejun Hu’s courses are what you might expect from MIT; they cover cutting-edge technical material. MIT IKIM will launch five more courses this summer on the new platform, all related to integrated photonics and all the courses that would fit into the MIT course catalog.

The DoD’s mission for the new learning platform, however, is to go far beyond hosting MIT-like classes. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in collaboration with MIT and others, is building an advanced manufacturing awareness course for high school students exploring possible careers that will be developed on the platform, linked to at least five of the institutes ’technologies. manufacturing. This project is part of a $ 3.2 million grant announced last October. MIT IKIM also plans to create training programs for edX technicians and technologists for students seeking a career in advanced technology, but who are not necessarily interested in pursuing high school. Many institutes plan their offerings online, aimed at students of all levels, even from elementary school.

While some people may not associate DoD with STEM education, it invests heavily in innovative STEM initiatives. MIT IKIM received DoD funding from the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program to build robotics and photonics technician programs and to launch a Virtual Manufacturing Lab, a set of virtual reality simulations in photonics and other advanced manufacturing technologies. DoD’s investment in the Open edX platform is consistent with its goal of making first-level education more accessible to students at all levels.

“The Department of Defense is eager to help build a robust national manufacturing industry. To do that, we need advanced training and advanced training available to more Americans, ”says Michael Britt-Crane, head of education and staff at the DoD Manufacturing Technology Program office. “This platform is an important way to do that and bring those resources to the DoD staff.”

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) institute has recently received funding to create a virtual manufacturing environment on the Open edX platform, where students can train in virtual machines. The environment could become a place to demonstrate competence and receive credentials. ARM recognizes the great potential of virtual and augmented realities to rapidly scale its manufacturing workforce in the use of robotics and automation.

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