GREENSBORO, N.C. — December 13, 2022 — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) and Alamance Community College (ACC) have kicked off the first Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining training of its kind in North Carolina. America’s Cutting Edge (ACE), a U.S. Department of Defense program designed to reestablish American leadership in the machine tool industry, provides online and in-person training — all at no cost.
“Industry demand for machine tool operators, engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs far outpaces our manufacturing workforce supply in the U.S.,” said Dr. Aixi Zhou, chair and professor in the Department of Applied Engineering Technology at N.C. A&T. “At North Carolina A&T, we are leveraging this opportunity with America’s Cutting Edge to better serve the Piedmont Triad region.”
The ACE program is comprised of two parts. The first is an online requirement that covers an introduction to CNC and 3D modeling using Fusion 360 and virtual machining applications. Upon completion, students become qualified to advance to a week-long, hands-on lab training “bootcamp.” Bootcamps provide opportunities for eligible students to learn in a high-intensity environment through hands-on, in-person training.
Working with education partner N.C. A&T as an ACE regional machine tools innovation and workforce development hub, ACC has plans to make its new CNC program a model for the state.
“The ACE program asked us to be part of their extended team and we were the first community college in North Carolina to accept the invitation and be approved,” said James Adkins, Department head of ACC’s Computer Integrated Machining (CIM) program. “CIM is a precision machining operation where students learn life skills that allow them to work anywhere in the world. This is especially true for female students who are in high demand in the industry.”
ACE also hopes to attract another traditionally underserved community in manufacturing, while connecting with industry. “As the country’s largest historically black university (HBCU) and leading producer of African American engineers, North Carolina A&T is uniquely positioned to increase diversity in manufacturing, particularly machining,” Dr. Zhou said. “The Piedmont Triad region plays an important role in some niche manufacturing industries, such as aerospace, automotive, bio-manufacturing, and furniture.”
When asked about her career plans, bootcamp participant Anaya Maxwell answered definitively, “THIS, exactly this. Today was my first experience working on a CNC machine, but last summer I took a summer camp in 3D printing and loved that too.” From Houston, Texas, Anaya is a sophomore at N.C. A&T pursuing a degree in Applied Engineering Technology. “I’d like to own my own business that combines additive and subtractive and work with other black women, but I don’t know where I’m going with that yet.”
ACE is supported by the defense department’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program. ACE brings together the scientific expertise of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), advanced training tools and techniques developed by University of Tennessee, Knoxville Professor Tony Schmitz and the workforce development leadership of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation® (IACMI). More than 3,100 people from all 50 states are engaged in the online training that began in December 2020, and in-person training is expanding from Tennessee to hubs in North Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Florida. Machining and machine tools are at the foundation of America’s manufacturing capability and its global competitiveness.
Posted: December 13, 2022
Source: IACMI – The Composites Institute