IACMI awarded grant to expand U.S. defense manufacturing workforce
The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI; Knoxville, Tenn., U.S.) has been awarded a $5 million grant over the course of the next three years to expand a composites training program begun by Davis Technical College (DTC; Kaysville, Utah, U.S.) to four additional locations across the U.S.
Through the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP) grant, IACMI plans to leverage its workforce development credentials and networks to fill a skills gap in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) manufacturing supply chain, particularly focusing on the areas of aerial combat or reconnaissance equipment manufacture.
In addition to Davis Technical College, the partnership also includes organizations that will leverage resources and expertise to complete the learning network:
- Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise, Ala., U.S., and the Composites Prototyping Center in Long Island, N.Y., U.S., which will be home to learning centers;
- Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind., U.S.), Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn., U.S.), the University of Dayton Research Institute (Dayton, Ohio, U.S.), and the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn., U.S.), which will serve to implement the curriculum;
- The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA; Arlington, Va., U.S.) and SpaceTEC CerTEC, which will provide education alignment and certification support;
- Composites One (Arlington Heights, Ill, U.S.), which will collaborate to develop and deliver workshops with IACMI to support the continuous learning requirements for instructors; and
- The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI; Huntington, W.Va., U.S.) Apprenticeship Works program, which will assist employers with establishing Department of Labor certified apprenticeship programs.
According to IACMI, this national program will have the potential to address composite manufacturing workforce deficits in every state, and will involve collaborating with DOD manufacturers to develop and deliver relevant training programs and providing opportunities for program graduates in high-skill, high-wage careers. Through collaboration with industrial experts and partners, the curriculum is designed to be competency-based, providing the learners with real-world experience, and it embeds fault simulations to sharpen participants’ decision making and trouble-shooting abilities.
The localized Davis Technical College, begun in 2006, has seen much success, IACMI says. Utah has seen the composites and advanced manufacturing sector increase in this time, and now the state is home to more than 100 companies in the advanced materials sector.
“… The partnership between IACMI and DTC is very dynamic and could bring qualified trained technicians to companies nationwide,” says Ginger Chinn, managing director of Utah’s Urban and Rural Business Services GOED.
In addition to training program trainees, the national program will also train instructors prior to program launch and will continue to provide support throughout the duration of the program. Instructors will be trained in proven teaching methodologies and will receive certifications in specific processes and technologies.
The national program will be led by IACMI’s workforce director, Joannie Harmon Heath, and Davis Technical College’s national director for composites pathways, Wes Hobbs.
“Over the past three years, Davis Technical College has had more than 150 graduates earn the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s Certified Composites Technician credentials as an earned capstone credential at the end of their program completion. These credentials allow graduates to enter the workforce with the certification reinforcing the applicable skills developed through the program,” says Tom Dobbins, ACMA president.
“We look forward to utilizing the network that we have created over the past five years through IACMI to expand the national training program. Davis Technical College’s leadership in this education space is incredibly valuable, and it will be a great resource to the U.S. to have this program available to more manufacturers and participants,” says Joannie Harmon Heath.
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