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The robotics industry is constantly changing and evolving. New robotics technologies and developments in automation are quickly creating exciting career opportunities at every education level – from micro-credentials to PhDs. Here is where you can learn more about robotics careers in manufacturing and how these new technologies are benefiting workers


Five Questions with Jeannine Kunz, Vice President of Tooling U-SME

August 9, 2021

This article was written as part of the ARM Institute's monthly Five Questions feature. Learn more at 

1. Jeannine, can you please tell us a bit about the Tooling U program offered by SME? 

Tooling U-SME delivers versatile, competency-based learning and development solutions to the manufacturing community, working with thousands of manufacturers, including more than half of all Fortune 500® manufacturing companies, as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. We partner with customers to build high performers who help their companies drive quality, profitability, productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Working directly with hundreds of high schools, community colleges and universities, Tooling U-SME is able to help prepare the next-generation workforce by providing industry-driven curriculum and certifications.

 As a result of Tooling U-SME’s work, we have witnessed countless organizations flourish. We’ve seen workers open doors to better futures. We’ve seen students become prepared to contribute on day one. And we’ve seen the industry rise to the challenge of new technologies and techniques. With the solid foundation of SME, we are focused on the technical details, but always with an eye on the bigger picture, meeting challenges, anticipating needs, and focusing on a capable and inspired workforce. And offering the most tangible and sustainable return on investment possible: continuing education and knowledge sharing. We’re not merely training. We’re focused on delivering pathways to success. For students. For workers. For small manufacturers. For the largest manufacturers in the world. 

2. Why did SME decide to invest in providing training for manufacturing? 

SME’s mission is to advance manufacturing through promoting advanced technology and developing a skilled workforce. There is no doubt that the health and competitiveness of the manufacturing industry is at risk without properly investing in the use of advanced technologies, software, materials etc. AND the most important asset…its people. For SME, it is critical that we do our part by continually investing in developing the right content as well as offering the content using the right delivery mechanisms (eLearning, instructor-led, virtual reality, etc.) to meet the diverse needs of the market. This risk and challenge are what drives our mission… to help organizations build structured and sustainable programs aligned to their business goals and assist educators in developing the next generation of employees. 

3. Based upon your experience, what are some of the top training needs identified by your manufacturing audience? 

Identifying the top needs communicated by the manufacturing industrial base is always an interesting question. We learn about manufacturer’s needs both formerly thru primary research as well as from our day-to-day work with companies of all sizes and sectors located across the United States. The top training needs are grouped into a couple categories:

1) foundational topics, quality, measurement, and inspection which impacts majority of manufacturers, 

2) more traditional manufacturing processes in particular machining, 

3) advanced manufacturing topics (additive, cyber, automation, digital), and 4) soft skills predominately in communication, critical thinking and problem solving. 


4. What role do you see initiatives like from the ARM Institute playing in helping to address these issues? 

I had the fortunate opportunity to work with the ARM Institute when it convened dozens of industry experts from industry, academia, and government to form the basis for a robotics competency framework and career pathways. Much of that work, which was vetted and support by key stakeholders, set the course for many great projects including and others such as the endorsement model to ensure education and training is aligned to the standards and needs of industry. The capability is focused and targeted on getting people the tools and resources needed to find a career and understand requirements. The ARM Institute established a plan and has been tireless in working to address one of the clearly defined challenges within our industry; correctly reflect the career opportunities while identifying quality training and resources to pursue that pathway. 

5. You’ve been a valuable contributor and active ARM Institute member, participating in our Education and Workforce Advisory Council (EWAC), for which we are very grateful. What value do you and Tooling U-SME receive from your ARM membership? 

This question is easy. On behalf of Tooling U-SME, I get to participate in the ARM Institute’s Education & Workforce Advisory Committee (EWAC) efforts and help solve challenges that threaten our national security, industrial competitiveness, and standard of living with some of the top talent and know-how in robotics education and training. Our membership has provided direct value in networking, access to project findings, but most importantly to us, as a non-profit, the opportunity to collectively work together for greater and aligned impact than fragmented isolated efforts. We appreciate the ARM Institute staff and their passion to think boldly and act quickly. 


The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute is a Manufacturing USA® Institute sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust and diverse ecosystem of consortium members and partners across industry, academia and government to make robotics, autonomy and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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