New Manufacturing Degree Responds to Industry Needs

The world moves quickly. So does Arkansas Tech University.

Upon hearing from regional industry leaders there was a need for a post-secondary credential in manufacturing, Arkansas Tech developed its Associate of Science degree in manufacturing and made it available within 12 months.

Housed in the ATU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the ATU Department of Mechanical Engineering, the ATU manufacturing degree is the first of its kind in Arkansas. It includes courses in manufacturing processes, methods and statistical analysis.

Manufacturing Degree student

The program differs from existing Associate of Applied Science degree programs in manufacturing at other institutions because the ATU program is designed to provide engineering students with access to an additional credential and the career opportunities therein.

“The program is aimed at providing graduates with an understanding of the processes, problems, and overall environment of the manufacturing industry,” said Dr. John Krohn, ATU professor of mechanical engineering. “The program consists primarily of courses common to the first two years of the institution’s Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program including targeted elective classes aimed at providing instruction in manufacturing processes, methods, statistical analysis and related topics.”

Manufacturing Degree student

The process that led to the development of the ATU manufacturing degree began during a Tech for Tech summit of education and industry leaders hosted by Arkansas Tech in February 2020.

Through those conversations, it was confirmed that one of the top priorities for the manufacturing industry is the recruitment of employees with knowledge of automation, data and augmented reality, including work in AutoCAD. Coding is also an important skill for manufacturing businesses to ensure the movement of products.

Data from the National Association of Manufacturing reveals that approximately 12.7 percent of the workforce in Arkansas is involved in manufacturing, the seventh-largest percentage in the United States and the third-largest percentage in the southern region of the country.

Manufacturing class

“Manufacturing occurs in many of the important industrial sectors identified by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission,” said Krohn. “There is a need for engineers to understand the manufacturing environment to contribute to aerospace and defense, food and beverage, paper and timber products, firearms and ammunition and transportation equipment.”

Visit to learn more about the ATU Department of Mechanical Engineering.

-By Sam Strasner
for the Tech Action, Fall 2021