Academic journal article Adult Learning

Development and Deployment of the Purdue TAP Green Enterprise Development Program

Academic journal article Adult Learning

Development and Deployment of the Purdue TAP Green Enterprise Development Program

Article excerpt

Abstract: Purdue University-Mechanical, Engineering, and Technology (MET) faculty and Purdue Technical Assistance Program (TAP) staff partnered with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) to create a new workforce training program and certificate exam in the field of green manufacturing. This article describes how the body of knowledge for the training program and exam was assembled and validated, how training materials were developed, and how training methods practiced by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers were incorporated into a culture changing worker training program.

Keywords: green manufacturing, sustainable manufacturing, greenworker training, green workforce development


Purdue University, one of Indiana's land-grant universities, has a mission to provide outreach and assistance to the citizens and organizations of Indiana. This purpose drove the decision of faculty members of the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) department to team up with one of the university's outreach programs to create a new green manufacturing workforce training program. The purpose of this article is to describe the development of this workforce training program.

Purdue Technical Assistance Program (TAP) uses faculty, students, and staff to provide a wide variety of application-focused technical advice and training. TAP is also a U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center that provides on-site lean manufacturing and other continuous improvement training and implementation assistance services. During development of the new training program, the author managed the Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (EES) team, the group tasked with commercialization of the training. The MEP system has successfully helped thousands of small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies across the country to implement continuous improvement programs. The source of this success is their field-experienced instructors, proven curricula, and methodology that requires engaging workers in their work environment.

Because of this success, the design team decided to use the MEP training to guide development of the commercial product and existing MEP trainers to deliver training. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a professional association known for development of professional skills training and accreditation. SME was chosen by TAP to create an outcome-based assessment of a person's knowledge of green manufacturing. The new training program and exam would cover a common body of knowledge (BoK).

This article will explain how the training program and certificate exam were created, tested, improved, and ultimately provided to workforce training organizations around the country. The article starts with the idea, describes who was involved and how existing resources were leveraged, explains the goals and details of the program, and finishes with a discussion of lessons learned and successes achieved.


In the spring of 2008, a team of faculty at Purdue University (Purdue University, 2012a) began work on a new workforce training program aimed at equipping workers in the manufacturing sector with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully lead an organizational effort to reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing facilities. The intended customers for this new training program would be companies committed to green manufacturing and workforce training organization.

Green manufacturing, also referred to as sustainable manufacturing, drives an organization toward the generation of zero waste and little or no negative environmental impacts. Just as in nature there is no trash, in green manufacturing there is no waste. All materials and actions have value and all are captured in the organization's reports. …

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