About a year and a half ago, Provost Dr. James Zhang led the deans of the colleges of engineering, sciences and liberal arts, the school of management and the graduate school, along with other leading Kettering faculty, in an ambitious effort “to re-shape the institution to better meet the needs that we know industry of the future is going to require.”
In order to create future-oriented offerings, Kettering needed to develop an interdisciplinary approach with connections to the mobility industry and add others already in the curriculum, such as robotics and cybersecurity, which have far broader applications.
Whether designing smarter cars or machines, developing alternative energies, becoming a tech entrepreneur or launching a med-tech venture, the University is intent on future-proofing students’ careers against the only certainty in today’s professional world: change.
Ultimately, the deans and faculty identified five interdisciplinary perspectives—advanced mobility, new energy vehicles, intelligent manufacturing, artificial intelligence and sustainability—that can be paired with engineering, computer science, and management disciplines to allow students and graduates to be nimble as the careers of the future unfold.
“This set of creative, and even revolutionary, initiatives is only the latest in a variety of curricular changes that we have made in recent years in recognition of the fact that skill sets can quickly become obsolete,” University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan said. “In looking ahead, anticipating change and embracing adaptability, they embody a dynamic—present relevance and future readiness—that we must instill in our students to prepare them for a future that is both here and ever-changing.”
In elaborating on the need for adaptability, fluidity and interdisciplinary focuses, Zhang pointed out that “the automotive industry has evolved into a technology platform. Before, you had the OEMs like the Big Three automakers and a lot of suppliers. Today, Google is playing on the platform. Intel is playing on it. The automobile has essentially become an intelligent, movable robot, and technologies from many different industries contribute to that, so everyone is playing on the platform.”
The first two focuses—advanced mobility and new energy vehicles—relate to Kettering’s traditional automotive (now mobility) priority. The three other categories—artificial intelligence, intelligent manufacturing and sustainability—extend across the industrial spectrum. Of these, Zhang noted, “Artificial intelligence really is an overarching technology which can be used to advance many industries.”