MIT launches MITx MicroMasters in Principles of Manufacturing

MIT today announced the launch of the Institute’s third MITx MicroMasters program, in principles of manufacturing. The new program brings an advanced manufacturing curriculum to the MITx platform for the first time and enables learners worldwide to advance their careers by mastering the fundamental skills needed for global manufacturing excellence and competitiveness.

New manufacturing firms are growing at their fastest rate since 1993, as technology revolutionizes the field. The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters program focuses on broad-based concepts that underlie all manufacturing environments, putting graduates of this unique program in a position to leverage the industry’s fast-paced growth. The graduate-level program enables engineers, product designers, and technology developers to advance their careers in a broad array of engineering capacities, including manufacturing, supply chain management, design, and product development.  

“Throughout an entire undergraduate degree program, the conventional engineering curriculum teaches students that everything is certain, and results are exact, ignoring inherent uncertainty,” says David Hardt, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “All too often, people fail to get products, and even companies, across what’s known as the valley of death, which is the gap between small-volume and full-scale production. Their efforts fail because they haven’t been given the fundamental skill set for managing uncertainties associated with production rate, quality, and cost. And, that’s exactly what we do in this new program.”  

Noting the continued evolution of technologies, instability of supply chains, and introduction of new production processes, Hardt says that manufacturing technologies “change so quickly that unless students master the cohesive set of fundamentals that underlie production, they won’t know how to handle many of the unexpected challenges that arise. It’s not just about knowing the latest technologies. To be a good decision-maker in manufacturing, a person has to master the core principles that determine how to apply those technologies under uncertain conditions.”

By maintaining a technology-agnostic curriculum and embracing the fundamental principles that govern manufacturing, the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters curriculum will maintain its relevance in this constantly changing environment.

The new MicroMasters program traces its roots back to the Master of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing and Design, originally established at MIT in 2001 through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. This master’s program provides a launchpad for graduates to become innovative future leaders in established manufacturing firms and new entrepreneurial ventures. The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters program announced today leverages this curriculum.

The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters curriculum consists of eight online courses, which span the fields of process control, manufacturing systems, engineering management, and supply chain planning and design. Each course runs for eight weeks, and students who complete the entire curriculum and earn their MicroMasters credential will be eligible to apply to the Master of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing and Design degree program on campus at MIT. If accepted, course credits earned through the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters will be applied to the on-campus degree program, enabling students to earn their master’s in eight months. Principles of Manufacturing online coursework commences in March 2018. The first cohort of students who have earned their MicroMasters credential and been admitted to the on-campus master’s degree program will arrive at MIT in January 2020 and graduate that August.

“We are excited to help the MIT faculty who have spent many years crafting this innovative curriculum teach the principles of manufacturing to learners around the country and around the world,” says Dean for Digital Learning Krishna Rajagopal. “At a time when manufacturing is changing rapidly, we are happy to make this learning opportunity open to all. For those who wish to advance their careers, the MITx MicroMasters will be a valuable professional credential. They will also be eligible to accelerate their completion of a master’s degree at MIT — or elsewhere. We are using digital technologies to leverage MIT’s commitment to rigorous, high-quality curricula in a way that expands access to, and transforms, graduate-level education for working professionals.”

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will also offer a pathway to their Master of Science in Professional Studies that awards credit to learners who successfully complete the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters credential and are then admitted to RIT. The RIT MS in Professional Studies is an innovative open curriculum environment that enables students to create a customized degree path that meets their educational or career objectives. The curriculum can include courses from multiple RIT graduate programs across two or three areas of study. RIT has been working with MITx since early 2017, and they currently offer a similar pathway to holders of the MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters credential.

“Digital technologies are enabling us to extend this cutting-edge manufacturing curriculum, which is the result of many years of research and development, to learners around the world regardless of their location or socioeconomic status,” says Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma. “The innovative application of open learning technologies has broken down barriers and enabled people of all ages and backgrounds to access world-class educational content. We hope that Principles of Manufacturing, MIT’s third MicroMasters program, will dramatically expand the opportunities for professional and lifelong learners to advance their careers and pursue their passions.”