Detroit Mercy's Pistrui is lead researcher for Automation Alley's Technology in Industry Report

April 29, 2019

David Pistrui speaks at Automation Alley's Technology in Industry Reveal.TROY — Automation Alley unveiled the findings of its research report on Industry 4.0 at its Technology in Industry Reveal at the Detroit Institute of Arts. More than 300 guests were in attendance to hear the key findings of the Industry 4.0 report, titled Industry 4.0: From Vision to Implementation

The report combines research from Michigan and Canadian universities, with corporate partner insights, and is comprised of emerging trends, challenges, opportunities, case studies and implications for industry.

For the talent portion of Automation Alley’s 2019 Technology in Industry Report, lead researcher, David Pistrui, Industry Liaison, Director of Graduate Recruiting, and Clinical Professor of Engineering at University of Detroit Mercy, evaluated the skills, motives and behaviors of three key segments of the talent pipeline in Southeast Michigan: next-generation leaders—engineers from OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers who have a Master’s degree and are emerging leaders in their organization; next-generation engineers—undergraduate engineering students in their freshman and junior years; and skilled trade apprentices—individuals enrolled in two-year skilled trades programs such as robotics, cybersecurity and welding. Of the nearly 500 individuals participating in the study, Automation Alley’s report found:

  • Southeast Michigan’s next-generation leaders have strong customer focus, interpersonal and employee development skills, yet are lacking in creativity, innovation, conceptual thinking and diplomacy.
  • The next-generation engineers (undergraduate students) are goal oriented, tolerant and inclusive of others and are developing their interpersonal skills; of concern is they are generally not self-starters and, consistent with the weaknesses of the next generation leaders, lack creativity and innovation skills.
  • The next-generation skilled trades people have solid interpersonal skills, some level of customer focus and an appreciation for others. Of concern is their lack of problem-solving skills, as well as an inability to influence others. In parallel with the other two groups, they also exhibit a lack of diplomacy. 

“When we look at our future Industry 4:0 leaders and workers, I see cause for alarm in these results,” Pistrui said. “Workforce implications should serve as the catalyst for educators and industry leaders to join forces to review current curriculum methods and develop an Industry 4.0 action plan to strengthen the creativity and innovation skills in students and faculty.”

Pistrui believes industry will require graduates who have a variety of skills beyond their major.

“We need to transition from a single-task career to a multi-task career,” Pistrui said. “So we’re not just producing mechanical engineers or electrical engineers, but we’re producing an engineer who can also code, who can understand data analytics and who can be a network administrator. It’s a dramatically different world.”

Also new to the report this year were findings on Automation Alley’s proprietary Velocity Index™, which illustrates the maturity of Industry 4.0 technologies and their expected rate of growth within the automotive, medical, retail and aerospace sectors to determine the risks associated with investment. Internet of Things (IoT) was noted as the most mature of the eight core competencies of Industry 4.0, with an ROI that is beginning to drop. Big Data, on the other hand, remains in relative infancy, with a promising ROI.

Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s executive director and CEO, offered next steps for Michigan’s Industry 4.0 preparedness.

“For the second consecutive year, the Technology in Industry Report has focused solely on Industry 4.0,” Kelly said. “This year’s findings reinforce the urgent need to tackle smart factory and advanced manufacturing from multiple angles, especially the human resource perspective, to maintain Michigan’s manufacturing prowess and leadership. We now have a deeper understanding of the talent component and other barriers that can impede that leadership and will continue to work with our manufacturing and education communities, as well as state government, to plan additional programming and targeted initiatives to address them.”