R&D Resources for Advanced Manufacturers in Texas

September 27, 2017 by Midlothian Economic Development


With the growth and evolution of the U.S. advanced manufacturing industry comes a polarizing shortage in workforce.

How do businesses balance the supply of existing workforce with their need for skilled workers to streamline engineering and advance their production line?

We are in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution both an exciting and perplexing time as we begin to experience it. As advanced manufacturing industries explore their capabilities to use technology to enhance machinery and processes, they find an increasingly important need for access to a highly skilled workforce.

Finding Solace in Texas Markets

While much of the nation struggles to find a strong labor supply for advanced manufacturing, Texas boasts a steady economy, available labor force, and outlook for continued growth. According to Business Texas, Texas manufacturing employs nearly 874,450 people at an average annual salary of $71,500, and remains the No. 1 exporter and top U.S. state for manufacturing exports and shipment value.

As manufacturing companies are looking to relocate and expand their business, the hunt for the ideal location stays top of mind. While access to adequate resources is a must, finding a site with access to a powerful labor pool and skilled workforce is the real challenge.

Texas continues to hold a commanding lead in these areas for the manufacturing industry. According to a Texas A&M report, Texas manufacturing employment grew 5.4 percent quarter over quarter, well above the national rate of 0.6 percent.

Looking to local universities can give businesses a competitive edge in an untapped workforce. Many Texas universities have research and development programs focused on advanced manufacturing. In North Texas alone, businesses have access to a wide variety of university programs specializing in advanced manufacturing.

A Wide Range of Skilled Development

In order to keep the momentum going towards innovation, corporations in North Texas have an opportunity to form partnerships with local universities in order to build strong relationships with the rising skilled workforce. Below, we outlined a few examples indicating the ample access that businesses in North Texas have to the growing skilled labor population in nearby universities:

Texas A&M Engineering’s Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training

Texas A&M Engineering offers Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training and workforce development certificates in a short-course format that can be taken online for those outside of the area. The program acknowledges the importance of a “direct connection to an employer's bottom line and an individual's livelihood.” Their programs are targeted towards employers wanting to increase productivity and retain workers or individuals interested in advancing their career or looking for new opportunities.

SMU Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing  

Southern Methodist University (SMU) offers a Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing through the Lyle School of Engineering. Their goal is to respond to the industry's needs and to provide the conditions to educate, promote, and apply university-led R&D for undergraduate and graduate students in the area of advanced manufacturing engineering. The center consists of the following labs: Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Laboratory, Laser Materials Processing Laboratory, Friction Stir Welding Laboratory, Special Application Laboratory, and Materials Characterization Laboratory.

Texas State’s Department of Engineering Technology 

Texas State's Department of Engineering Technology offers a Manufacturing Engineering Technology Specialization curriculum designed to ready students for the challenging real-world applications of technical and managerial skills in advanced manufacturing.  

Denton’s University of North Texas (UNT) College of Engineering

University of North Texas (UNT) offers a 290-acre research park called Discovery Park, capable of highly advanced R&D for the advanced manufacturing sector. The University partners with companies to collaborate on workforce training skills grants, certifications, and associate degree programs.

As just a few of the resources available to businesses in Texas, university programs are a great way for companies to connect with rising students in this specialized field. These partnerships can boost internal employee training, recruitment efforts, and advanced research.

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