Cummins, Purdue pilot digital workforce program

Jan. 29, 2021

Cummins Inc. and PurdueUniversity reported Jan. 5 they're partnering on a pilot workforce development program, Indiana Digital Crossroads, to address regional workforce challenges in technology fields. Launched in early 2020, the program lets Purdue to employ data science students as a consulting team, which works under contract on data-intensive projects for companies that benefit from the students’ fresh, creative approaches.

“The shared goal is to capture the attention of regional students from our excellent educational institutions and introduce them to the growing number of innovative technology opportunities here in Indiana,” says Sherry Aaholm, VP and CIO at Cummins. “Cummins is among the many companies in the region looking for ways to fortify the available talent pool, and I challenged the Purdue team to help develop an innovative way to address the problem.” 

The talent deficit forces companies like Cummins to outsource some critical work, but this program can enable that work to be directed to qualified local students, who can learn while doing real work during their academic years. The framework of Indiana Digital Crossroads provides mentoring, interdisciplinary setting, data science expertise and enough students to sustain many partnerships. It's designed to eventually involve multiple universities and companies. PurdueUniversity also developed a campus-wide Integrative Data Science Initiative, which aims to foster a large, digitally savvy talent pipeline across all disciplines.

“In our pilot project, we gave the student consulting team a tough problem of bringing together big data in a digital twin framework for asset management,” explained David Leach, executive director of analytics and artificial intelligence at Cummins. “We expect, and are already receiving, a real return on our investment." The students worked on predicting the end of life for turbochargers in Cummins engines, based on engine sensor data, fleet service data, engine performance characteristics and other engine attributes.

Cummins plans to expand its participation in Indiana Digital Crossroads in 2021, and Purdue intends to expand the partnership program to other companies.