Need a New Summer Book? Our 3 Picks on Education & Industry

Written by: Chris von Staats

Read Time: 5 min

Modern graduates have the opportunity to bring their technology backgrounds to the industrial workforce and with that, updated ways of driving efficiency and productivity. But what happens when the university system fails to provide adequate training to prepare millennial workers to aid in the digital transformation of industry?

These 3 books help bring clarity to the current status of the relationship between education and industry. The main thread that ties these books together is the disconnect between what higher education is teaching and what industry needs. They offer an examination of how the current skills gap is being exacerbated, in some cases, by outdated modes of education and remedied in others by forward-thinking and often revolutionary educators.

The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

Cathy N. Davidson | Former Professor and Administrator at Duke and Current Creator and Director of the Futures Initiative Group at the City University of New York

“This book is dedicated to Millennials and to all future generations. You deserve a better chance than you’ve been given.”

The technological landscape we currently live in barely resembles the world of the industrial revolution in the 1800s, yet it was in this time period that the higher education structure as we know it was created, “to train farmers and shopkeepers to be factory workers and office managers.” With a sympathetic attitude towards the modern graduate, Davidson breaks down how the education system came to be, why we still rely on this same system to equip our students for the careers of today, and why it needs to be updated for the modern era.

She goes on to profile educators from across the educational spectrum who are breaking the mold and paving the way for others to follow. Traveling from “elite private schools to massive public universities and innovative community colleges,” she chronicles the ways that teachers are preparing students for the modern world where “work and home are far less distinct, work itself is more precarious, wages are largely stagnant, automation is expanding and becoming more sophisticated, and professions are disappearing.”

The obstacles laid out can paint a bleak picture, but Davidson is confident and looks to the creators of the existing system as inspiration: “They succeeded in an age as stressed and chaotic as our own. If they did it, why can’t we?”

Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Joseph E Aoun | President of Northeastern University

With his book, Aoun asks the question, “how should we be preparing people for this fast-changing world?”

He brings up the many challenges facing the modern worker looking to survive in our current society and economy – one that’s been shaped by automation and artificial-intelligence – and looks to create a new “robot-proof” model of higher education. This model should “[refit students’] mental engines, calibrating them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or otherwise produce something society deems valuable.” Essentially, giving them the tools to protect themselves from a career that is routine and could be replaced by robots.

To this end, Joseph lays out a “framework for a new discipline – ’humanics’ – the goal of which is to nurture our species’ unique traits of creativity and flexibility.” In this new discipline, he reasserts the value of humans in the workforce, discusses how humans and robots can work side-by-side, and gives advice to the higher education system in what it needs to do to create this future.

“Human beings will still read books penned by human authors and be moved by songs and artworks born of human imagination. Human beings will still undertake ethical acts of selflessness or courage and choose to act for the betterment of our world and our species. Human beings will also care for our infants, give comfort to the infirm, cook our favorite dishes, craft our wines, and play our games. There is much for all of us to do.”

The New Collar Workforce: An Insider's Guide to Making Impactful Changes to Manufacturing and Training

Sarah Boisvert | Over 30 Years of Experience and Countless Accolades in the Field of Design, Development, and Commercialization of High-Tech Products

Through her research and survey of the needs of U.S. manufacturers, Boisvert has created a profile of the worker that industry so desperately needs – the, “New Collar” worker.

“New Collar” workers train to work alongside robots in the automated, cutting-edge factories of today. They aren’t there to complete repetitive, low-skill tasks like their predecessors in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. “New Collar” workers have technology skills that allow them to “run automation and software, design in CAD, program sensors, maintain robots, repair 3D printers, and collect and analyze data.”

Like the authors of, “The New Education” and “Robot-Proof,” Boisvert calls for a reform of the higher education system and provides us with examples of people and programs out there that are taking the necessary steps forward.

Though the matter is pressing, Boisvert’s outlook is optimistic: “We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity to look to the future and fundamentally change manufacturing jobs but also to show people the value in new collar jobs and to create nontraditional pathways to engaging, fulfilling careers in the digital factory.”

Everyone knows summer is an excellent time to relax by the pool and catch up on some reading. For students and educators on break from school, it’s also a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the knowledge and skills you have to offer the workforce, or the way in which you are preparing for the future. These books will provide valuable insight into where you stand at this important crossroads in education. If you’d like to think about some ways of improving your resume or curriculum, explore PTC Academic’s free industry-leading software offerings for students and educators here.
Tags: CAD Industrial Internet of Things Education Industry 4.0

About the Author

Chris von Staats

Chris von Staats is a Marketing Media Specialist for the PTC Academic Marketing team. He creates content across multiple mediums including video, photography, graphic design, and written word that help the academic program bring PTC technology to students of all ages.