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Education and workforce development in additive manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing (AM) has been advancing at such a rapid pace in the last few years that the ecosystem of schools that teach AM programs and grant individual students AM credentials, certificates, and degrees has been in catch-up mode...
Oct 22, 2019

Additive Manufacturing (AM) has been advancing at such a rapid pace in the last few years that the ecosystem of schools that teach AM programs and grant individual students AM credentials, certificates, and degrees has been in catch-up mode. It’s imperative that industry drives the direction of the education market.

The Technology Fundamentals program is a key foundational component of all education programs in the manufacturing technology industry. Tooling U-SME has developed an Additive Manufacturing Certification track, which is available to AMT members via MTUniversity.org. We have been recommending to individuals who are part of the Certified Manufacturing Technology Sales Engineer (CMTSE) Program that they add this AM track of classes to their professional development plans and as part of their three-year CMTSE recertification process. This AM track is equally valuable to all AMT members and members’ customers to develop an understanding of the fundamentals of AM technologies.

There has been a renewed emphasis on apprenticeship programs, both by the last presidential administration and the current administration. The Marshall University Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing in West Virginia developed an Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Apprenticeship program in partnership with SME, America Makes (the AM Manufacturing USA Institute), ApprenticeshipUSA, and others. Contact Lucinda Curry at RCBI at lcurry@rcbi.org for more information.

Additive Manufacturing equipment solution providers like EOS have developed initiatives like their Additive Minds services to assist manufacturing companies in upskilling staff, smoothing the learning curve, and deciding how the use of AM technologies can be part of a company’s strategy to improve their manufacturing processes and throughput. For more information, visit www.eos.info/press/eos-additive-minds.

Additive Manufacturing Technology programs are growing across the landscape of U.S. engineering colleges and universities and are becoming terrific pipelines for workforce development and recruiting in engineering, service, and sales. We recommend frequent visits and even participating in career fairs of the engineering schools in your community, state, and region. You can also check with AMT Research & Education Affiliate Member schools about their AM programs and the possibility of recruiting graduates.

As I hope you’re aware by now, AMT has been working on ProjectMFG, an initiative with the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a new 5-axis CNC machining skills competition. The goals of ProjectMFG are to solve the skills gap by raising awareness about new and exciting education and career pathways in U.S. manufacturing, improve perceptions about careers in our industry, elevate U.S. technical education programs, and support U.S. defense industry capabilities and sustainability. The DOD intends to hold the National Championship for ProjectMFG at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2020. By that time, we plan to build an Additive Manufacturing component into the National Championship.

Finally, speaking of the Student Summit: as you’re aware, we make donations to schools thanks to proceeds from the Miles for Manufacturing 5K event at IMTS. We frequently use these proceeds to purchase and donate 3D printers to STEM middle schools. This program gives young students a chance to familiarize themselves with the pathway to additive manufacturing careers, and we encourage our members to consider supporting their local middle school programs by donating 3D printers or anything else STEM teachers need in their classrooms. If you’re considering a donation but don’t know where to start, visit DonorsChoose.org to help teachers clear their lists of equipment, tools, and general classroom supplies.

Greg Jones
Vice President, Smartforce Development
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