Prepare Your Company for Future Automation by Investing in the Right Talent

Lockheed Martin, one company that is focusing on the teaming up of humans and machines, including robotics, last week announced a collaboration initiative with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to research “generation-after-next autonomous systems,” according to American Machinist. The collaboration calls for exchanging scientists, support for undergraduate research, fellowships and Lockheed internships.

Lockheed has previously stated that “autonomous or semi-autonomous robots” able to work together with humans will need technology that allows the units to demonstrate “perception, processing, power and planning.”

“Autonomous or semi-autonomous robots able to work together with humans will need technology that allows the units to demonstrate “perception, processing, power and planning.”

“We’re making the investment today, not just in research and development of the technologies that could have the most impact on future generations, but in the talent of these amazing individuals that will truly shape the future,” Lockheed Martin’s program manager Padraig Moloney said.

Industry, academic and government leaders last week discussed creative ways to find the right talent needed to work with evolving automation, at a workshop held at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, sponsored by the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution.

According to Industry Week, panelists at the workshop talked about the need to improve high school STEM preparation and how industry can more effectively reach out to schools; the importance of creating more industry-specific training through apprenticeships, co-ops, internships and e-learning; and how small and medium-sized manufacturing companies can become part of the pipeline for technology training.

One panelist, Alcoa’s vice president for talent management David Milbourne, said that companies that want good advanced manufacturing have to actively seek and pursue the right talent. Indeed, Alcoa has quadrupled its internships in the past three years at its Technology Center in New Castle, Penn. The company is also partnering with a community college to train 60 students for jobs in additive manufacturing/3D printing in New Castle.

Once they have talent, manufacturers need “constantly to be replenishing,” added Milbourne.

“We need to recognize that people like to change and move around in their careers,” he said. “If we get them for 3 to 5 years, we’re probably doing somewhat well.”

Then there are companies like Ford Motor Co. that are acquiring talent by buying or investing in tech firms, according to another article in Industry Week. Earlier this month Ford announced that it was seeking to expand its software expertise ahead of a shift to electric and autonomous cars, by investing $182.2 million in Pivotal Software Inc., the cloud-computing joint venture of EMC Corp. and VMware Inc. The investment gives the automaker a stake of about 6.6% in San Francisco-based Pivotal.

“Ford has already worked with Pivotal on developing a mobility app called FordPass that it unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January,” Industry Week wrote. “Pivotal developed the software for the app, which lets users search for parking spaces and find, unlock and remotely start their vehicles. Eventually, the app will connect users with ride-hailing and car-sharing services.”

Investing in such capabilities is part of Ford’s own continuing evolution, said chief executive Mark Fields, who wants Ford to be viewed as “both an automotive and mobility company to encompass its efforts in driverless cars and ride-sharing.”

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