The SecureAmerica Institute (SAI) is partnering with Project MFG to host competitions for students to address manufacturing skills gaps and change how Americans view the skilled trades as part of the National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative. This initiative is part of the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program, which is working together with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station to address the United States’ defense manufacturing skills gap.
A career and technical education (CTE) team from Bryan ISD was one of several teams who competed in qualifying rounds last week at Adams Engineers and Equipment (AEE) in Jacksonville, Texas, vying for a chance to advance to future competitions and win a $100,000 grand prize.
Project MFG’s integrated manufacturing competitions offer students real-world experiences and instill work ethic and time management skills through challenges involving machining, welding, metrology, programming and inspection tasks associated with fabricating a product to the required specifications.
Each school determines the number of teammates necessary based on individual disciplines and skill sets. The competition is timed, and each teammate has associated labor costs highlighting the need for high quality and efficient work.
“I saw a 3D printer in middle school and became interested in manufacturing,” said Ryan Hill, a student from Bryan ISD who has been enrolled in the CTE program for two years. “It opened my eyes to the industry, and I plan to pursue a future in machining.”
AEE in Jacksonville was the host site for the east Texas qualifying rounds and serves a Texas manufacturing customer base with applications engineering and training resources to ensure an investment in manufacturing technology results in optimal success. SAI and AEE are collaborating closely to incorporate additive manufacturing into the 2022 competition schedule.
“The Bryan High School team demonstrated outstanding programming, machining and welding skills beyond their years. They were also introduced to industrial 3D printing as a manufacturing process,” said Cliff Adams, president of AEE. “While putting their existing technical skills to the test and learning about new technologies, we observed their enthusiasm and problem-solving skills. Our Texas manufacturing base is in good hands for the future.”
Project MFG competitions are nationwide and open to high schools, community colleges, trade schools and universities. SAI will host the Texas state competition in spring 2022 at its newly renovated headquarters located on The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS campus. The winning team will advance to the national finals in May 2022 and be featured on Clash of Trades.
Manufacturing employees work in fast-paced, skills-shifting environments where technology changes in a matter of months rather than years. While technological advances may eliminate some jobs, they will create many more. According to a study by Deloitte, the manufacturing industry increasingly finds itself unable to fill those positions with qualified candidates.
“Recruiting and developing the next generation of the U.S. manufacturing workforce needs a fresh approach, and Project MFG serves as an exemplar,” said Rob Gorham, SAI executive director. “Our partnership is only just starting, and we are looking forward to expanding across Texas for an even larger impact.”