Purdue, Accenture partner on smart manufacturing

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University and Ireland-based professional services company Accenture announced a five-year partnership on Monday, with the goal of better preparing a “next-generation smart manufacturing workforce.”

Purdue said the company has committed to provide funding to establish the Accenture Smart Factory on the West Lafayette campus as well as the Accenture Smart Manufacturing Scholars Program.

Smart manufacturing refers to using digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, the cloud, robotics and 5G to build products.

The Accenture Smart Factory is designed to support students in Purdue’s College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. It will be located in Dudley Hall and include instructional laboratories, design studios, and collaboration spaces for students from different disciplines.

The Accenture Smart Manufacturing Scholars program is being established to provide funds for select students who will receive the equivalent of in-state tuition every year for up to four years.

The program will include a Women in Manufacturing scholarship with the goal of attracting more women to the manufacturing industry.

“With the Accenture Smart Factory and the Accenture Manufacturing Scholars Program, we can prepare more students for exciting future careers in smart manufacturing,” Daniel Castro, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said in written remarks. “At the same time, this venture allows Purdue to meet the needs of our partners in industry who are desperately seeking career-ready graduates with the skills we will teach in this new facility.”

Aaron Saint, who heads up Accenture’s digital engineering and manufacturing service known as Industry X, said the initiative comes as companies continue to reinvent manufacturing in North America.

“Factories of the future will rely on automation, data analysis and digital twin replicas to enhance productivity, safety and quality. They need a workforce with those skills,” said Saint. “The Accenture Smart Factory will provide the right platform for innovation in this next era, and this collaboration with Purdue will equip tomorrow’s workforce with the skills they need for a successful career in digital manufacturing.”

A spokesperson for Accenture declined to provide a dollar figure for its investment.

Accenture employs some 721,000 people in more than 120 countries.