EdD Alumna Stephanie Fiely Advances New Manufacturing Assistance Program

Stephanie Fiely never imagined that her higher education path would lead her to develop an innovative academic program within manufacturing.

With her dissertation for the Doctor of Education (EdD) program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Fiely (EdD ‘20), who is the assistant executive director of the Education and Training Hub at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville, laid the foundation for the Swanson  School of Engineering’s new Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) at Pitt Titusville.

The center, which opened its doors in Titusville August 2021, aims to develop the regional workforce and support high-paying jobs in manufacturing.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of this whole process,” says Fiely. “Although the program started in Homewood, we were able to tweak the program at Pitt-Titusville to meet the needs of Northwestern Pennsylvania and everybody’s needs overall.”

The MAC in Titusville prepares students for in-demand manufacturing positions over the course of six to eight weeks of training. There are programs available: basic machining and advanced machining with computer numerical control (CNC), and a program in the Mastercam computer software system will be added after more students complete the other two programs.

Students learn the fundamentals of machine operating and complete multiple projects to put their learning into practice.

“Since each course provides hands-on experience, we’re setting them up to go right into the workforce,” says Fiely.

Fiely hopes that the MAC will change the stigma around manufacturing jobs and lead to younger generations getting involved.

“When you think of machine operating-type jobs, you may think it’s a dirty job, which is not the case anymore,” says Fiely. “In a more modern facility like ours, it’s more computerized.”

Fiely, who began her career working within Student Affairs at Pitt, credits the process of completing her dissertation for Pitt’s EdD program’s Higher Education concentration area, as the key to her success.

“My dissertation allowed me to establish a few connections with manufacturers, which helped me to understand what the program already had and what our employers were looking for,” says Fiely. “My coursework also helped me to identify and answer key questions like how much do we need to charge for tuition, how do we get grants to help with sustainability, and how do we bring inclusion and diversity into the program?”

Looking ahead, Fiely expects that the center will continue to expand within the next few years and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

“Giving students the opportunity to complete these courses, they’re not only mastering their skills, they’re also bettering themselves for the future,” says Fiely. “Hopefully, in the next few years, we can continue to grow as a program.”

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The Doctor of Education (EdD) program at the Pitt School of Education is currently accepting applications.