The National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) announced the endorsement today of America’s Cutting Edge (ACE), a free machine tool training program designed to engage the next generation of machinists and create talent pipelines for the precision manufacturing industry in the U.S. Supported by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), ACE training is led by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a national Manufacturing USA institute that collaborates with industry, academia and government to solve America’s manufacturing challenges.
“As a leading national trade association for the U.S. precision manufacturing industry, NTMA has been a consistent champion of and resource for workforce skills training,” said NTMA President Roger Atkins. “NTMA assists our members by identifying and recommending high-caliber programs that can help them foster and grow the talent in their facilities. America’s Cutting Edge, like our NTMA-U program, is an accessible platform to help manufacturers and educational institutions build an empowered workforce. Coming out of the pandemic, the U.S. manufacturing sector is strong. It is more important than ever to focus on building a workforce for today and the future.”
An active member of NTMA, IACMI values NTMA’s recognition of ACE as a solution to help train CNC machine tool professionals and rebuild U.S. capabilities in this area. Through ACE, IACMI is working directly with DoD’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program to scale up machine tool training centers across the U.S. to help restore the prominence of the U.S. machine tools sector. By investing in programs like ACE, IBAS strives to keep the U.S. industrial base at the front of strategic competitiveness by fielding new technologies and systems with the right-sized and trained workforce.
According to Lucinda Curry, IACMI’s national workforce manager, NTMA’s endorsement of ACE is very important. “NTMA is a leader in utilizing new technologies, promoting common business interests, and providing education and training for their members. Their endorsement will demonstrate the value of ACE training to enhance school programs, apprenticeships, and help recruit more workers to the machining industry.”
The ACE training focuses on Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining fundamentals but is geared towards anyone interested in manufacturing, from high school students to experienced machinists looking to expand their skills. Both the six-hour online course and the 32-hour in-person training require no prior experience and are offered at no cost. More than 3,300 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 machine tool training centers 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.
Dr. Tony Schmitz, mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and joint faculty at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, agrees. He developed the ACE curriculum and is thrilled to have NTMA’s support. “The ACE mission is to deploy training that advances the capabilities of U.S. machining through its workforce. Our intended audience is largely composed of NTMA members. This is a critical and strategic collaboration.”