Clemson Libraries; OUR Clemson

Accessible education: Clemson, Trident Tech, Claflin to create advanced manufacturing learning materials through U.S. Department of Education funds


The advanced manufacturing industry is continuously evolving thanks to technological innovations, increasing the need for a skilled workforce. To ensure educational institutions in South Carolina can help meet the industry’s growing employee demand, Clemson University, Trident Technical Community College and Claflin University are working together on a new project to provide access to affordable learning resources. 

The project, titled the Collaborative Development of Robotics Education and Advanced Manufacturing Open Educational Resources (Co-DREAM OER), aims to dramatically lower the cost of learning for students in advanced manufacturing through the development of three openly licensed textbooks and digital ancillary materials on robotics. The textbooks are expected to save students at the three institutions a total of $150,000 annually and will also be available to institutions across the country. 

“Co-DREAM OER has an ambitious plan for addressing the challenges posed by the growth of advanced manufacturing and lowering the cost of learning for students in fields related to it,” said Yang Wu, Open Resources Librarian with Clemson Libraries and principal investigator on the project. “We want to support the creation of a large and competent workforce by providing effective and low-cost educational resources. These types of open textbooks and ancillary materials support learning and can assist Clemson, Trident and Claflin students, as well as many others in South Carolina and beyond.” 

Robotics education historically lacks suitable low-cost books for use in associate, undergraduate and graduate courses. Existing textbooks cost between $150-200, which is often out of reach for many students, particularly those on financial aid. They also typically focus on theory, resulting in abstract learnings that are not always aligned with industry needs, especially for those in associate programs.

“As the state’s leading institution in engineering education, it’s important for us to find opportunities to partner with other schools within South Carolina to create equal opportunities for students from different backgrounds and in different parts of their educational journey,” said Chris Cox, dean of Clemson Libraries.

The free textbooks produced by Co-DREAM OER are an innovative solution to these obstacles and will include supplementary materials and simulation technology, allowing higher education institutions to create courses and programs to better prepare students. Designed based on Universal Design for Learning principles and educational research on students from a variety of backgrounds, the textbooks also aim to address the learning needs of diverse learners and increase participation in robotics education by under-represented students.  

Of the three books, one will be designed for two-year associate programs, another for four-year bachelor’s programs and the third for the master’s track. The baccalaureate book will be available early 2023. The other two will be completed by August 2024.

Funded by a $759,629 FISPE Award through the U.S. Department of Education, Co-DREAM OER began in September and runs through August 31, 2024. Clemson is one of nine institutions to receive the 2021 grant. The project is also supported by industry partners such as BMW and ABB Robotics, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, as well as the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries, the state’s academic library consortium. 

The three books to be produced by Co-DREAM OER are only the start of a larger initiative by the partner institutions to develop textbooks to support advanced manufacturing education. The project seeks to develop six additional textbooks, three in mechatronics and three in advanced manufacturing for associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.  

A group of library professionals at Clemson University.
Yang Wu, Matthew Boyer, Christopher Cox, John Wagner, Kapil Madathil, and Yue Wang outside the R.M. Cooper Library.

Clemson co-principal investigators:

Anand Gramopadhye
Dean, College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences 

Yue “Sophie” Wang
Associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering 

John Wagner 
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Product Life Management Center 

Kapil Madathil 
Assistant professor, Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering

D. Matthew Boyer 
Research associate professor, Department of the Engineering and Science Education 

John Morgenstern
Head, Clemson University Press