The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), in partnership with Department of Defense (DoD)’s Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office, announced on Sept. 14 that St. Cloud State University is one of two Minnesota institutions chosen as a new machine tool workforce development center via the America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) program.
ACE is a national initiative aimed at revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, and SCSU was chosen along with the University of St. Thomas to provide essential training in manufacturing across the state. ACE now has regional machine tool training centers in nine states, providing free online and in-person training for the machine tool industry.
SCSU will use a 53-foot semi-trailer as their mobile training center, ideal for reaching rural communities throughout Minnesota.
They’ll begin by training teachers in their Technology Engineering and Careers (TEC) Network this fall and will then drive the unit equipped with portable Haas Mills to all qualifying schools and companies by spring 2024. Just like other TEC Network equipment, SCSU staff will train instructors in advance and deliver the machines and materials to their locations, all at no cost. CEU and college credits will be available to successful graduates of the program.
“We are building on our strengths here at SCSU as ACE will expand the training opportunities of our TEC Network. The addition of making this program available through SCSU’s mobile platform allows us to take this much-needed training opportunity on the road as we reach teachers and students across Minnesota,” said Dr. Kurt Helgeson, an SCSU professor in the Department of Environmental and Technological Studies and ACE Program Director. “The ACE initiative aligns with SCSU’s focus on providing innovative learning experiences to serve a need and meet the demands of our workforce.”
ACE is comprised of two parts. The first is an online requirement that covers an introduction to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining and 3D modeling using Fusion 360. Additional courses in metrology, composites, and cybersecurity have been added. Upon completion, students become qualified to advance to hands-on lab training. Whether in an engineering department or a mobile shop, “bootcamps” provide opportunities for eligible students to learn in a high-intensity environment through hands-on, in-person training—all at no cost.
Managed by IACMI, ACE aims to close the skills gap and restore American dominance in machine tool technology and innovation. More than 5,500 people from all 50 states are engaged in online training, and nearly 700 have completed in-person training.
“Machining and machine tools are at the foundation of America’s manufacturing capability and its global competitiveness,” said IACMI Workforce VP Joannie Harmon. “We have a critical workforce skills gap in this country when it comes to machine tool resources. The training component of ACE is intended to help our nation recover, advance, and sustain technical and manufacturing positions – all to enable a strong, resilient, and responsive U.S. industrial base.”