A new wave of programs and training centers across the U.S. can give manufacturing the boost it needs to recover from the skills and talent crisis. Even more, such initiatives can strengthen industry awareness for students considering careers in the manufacturing industry. Here is a handful of new resources underway.
This month, Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin will have its grand opening of an expanded SC Johnson integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (iMET) Center. Experts from industry will attend the facility opening on Feb. 12 and give seminars to local manufacturers. The 18,000-sq-ft center — an addition to an existing building — is home to the first flexible manufacturing lab in the region focused on short-term customized training, according to an announcement. The training center lab will feature space for classroom and apprenticeship training, in addition to computer numerical control machining, welding, metal fabrication, automated manufacturing systems, and industrial robotics.
During his State of the State address, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a proposal for a manufacturing lab that would help companies learn about and utilize new tools and software, and ultimately the state’s manufacturing competitiveness. While the lab would receive a $5 million grant from the state, it would also require an equal amount from private investment. The Illinois Manufacturing Laboratory, which would involve the University of Illinois and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications of Urbana, would also be a gateway for manufacturers to train workers and simulate supply chains.
“As we create next-generation jobs, we must ensure that our workers are equipped for them,” the governor said in his speech.
Doing their part in reversing the deficit in manufacturing employment, Abaris Training and the University of Nevada are partnering to offer a new advanced composites manufacturing program. Abaris, a composites training company, will host three “intensive five-day courses” offered by the university’s Reno Extended Studies, and students who complete the course requirements will receive a certificate in advanced composites manufacturing.
“These courses will play a pivotal role in helping strengthen Nevada’s workforce capabilities in aviation and aerospace manufacturing and repair, according to Steve Hill, the executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation have included the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) on its “top 10 list of the most innovative economic development initiatives across the country.” NAMII, a public-private partnership located in Youngstown, Ohio, was launched last August. It includes a consortium of manufacturing firms, nonprofit organizations, universities, and community colleges that are in the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia region known as the Tech-Belt. NAMII has opened membership to the additive manufacturing and research fields.
“Given that NAMII was only founded in August of last year, it is rewarding to know that NAMII’s efforts to promote entrepreneurialism within additive manufacturing and to accelerate those technologies to the mainstream U.S. manufacturing sector have warranted recognition by the Brookings/Rockefeller Project,” said Ralph Resnick, acting director for NAMII and president and executive director of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), in a NAMII announcement.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program propose that the federal government support “the designation of a core of approximately 20 leading manufacturing industries,” the Brookings Institution announced. Such an effort would include federal investment of $25 million per designated university to help provide curricula that are targeted for specific manufacturers in need of workers. It would also create a network of industry-university partnerships crucial to training candidates for manufacturing, according to Robert D. Atkinson, a nonresident senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program, who explains that the designated schools would introduce new programs in their business programs that focus on manufacturing.