Manufacturing a Workforce through Hands-On Instruction
Written by Roy Kirchner
Pasco County’s AmSkills and U3DPS give students and veterans the equipment to gain insight into manufacturing and 3D printing technology.
ODESSA, FL – June 2017 – The future of the American workforce has yet to be written, but two Tampa Bay organizations hope to make Florida more than a historical footnote in the next chapter of the country’s manufacturing evolution. By merging hands-on, skills-based professional experience with cutting-edge technology, Ultimate 3D Printing Store (U3DPS) and the American Manufacturing Skills Initiative (AmSkills) are providing students, military veterans and unemployed adults in Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties with a career-defining opportunity.
The first collaboration between the two organizations is already underway. AmSkills purchased $17,000 worth of 3D printers and equipment from U3DPS, which is being used by students aged 15 to 18 years old attending AmSkills’ first three-week summer camp, which began June 12.
The students are building their own 3D printers from scratch, as well as touring local manufacturers and learning about three specific manufacturing disciplines. Students also will have the option to purchase the printers once the camp ends.
U3DPS was founded in 2015 by Odessa-based entrepreneur Roy Kirchner, and has quickly gained a national reputation as a leading expert on 3D additive manufacturing. In addition to supplying additional machines and equipment for future projects, Kirchner’s company also will provide technical support and work directly with AmSkill’s Executive Director Tom Mudano to help the government agency stay abreast of the latest technology.
Established in 2014 as the Industry Certified Training Center, and incorporated as a government entity, AmSkills operates as a European-style advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program.
Based in New Port Richey at the Marchman Technical Education Center, AmSkills currently operates five training centers in Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties, and works with students aged 15 and older, as well as military veterans and unemployed adults seeking a skilled trade in three manufacturing disciplines.
The program exists to bridge the gap between companies needing skilled workers and potential employees who lack experience by providing a rigorous apprenticeship program. Some students will begin working at host companies while still in high school, paving the way for a full-time job upon graduation. Others will use the experience as a launchpad into college. For veterans and adults currently in the workforce or unemployed, they can learn a new skill set to potentially ignite a future manufacturing career.
For now, AmSkills’ effort is focused on its three initial counties, which collectively are home to more than 2,000 manufacturing companies. The problem, according to Mudano, is that 94 percent of those companies employ less than 50 employees and few have the resources in place to adequately train potential employees.
The summer camp foray into 3D printing is the first of many planned joint-endeavors with Ultimate 3D Printing Store, Mudano said.
“When you look at 3D printing in manufacturing, there really isn’t much of it. AmSkills, not only do we want to fill the needs of now, but we also want to look to the future and develop those advanced skills as needed,” he said. “There are not a lot of people who teach – schools have 3D printers, but I literally have an article that says students aren’t allowed to touch them. We want them to touch them, learn how they work, not just how they print.”
AmSkills, in partnership with Ultimate 3D Printing Store, aims to change that.
“From a student perspective, if we can start introducing 3D printing and giving them an additional skill, as they go into companies, they can also start introducing 3D printing to those companies,” Mudano continued. “That’s the first thing, help out students increase their value and indirectly help manufacturers to see this is a future they need to consider.”
The next goal, he said, is education.
“I want to create a training school on 3D printing – not just, again, on how to print. You need to understand how they work,” he said. “But, also to have some additional classes – how to make money with 3D printing.”
Kirchner praised the initiative for helping ensure the long-term viability of American-made products.
“The future of U.S. manufacturing will be fueled by 3D printing,” Kirchner said. “We’re already seeing companies across the country utilize this technology to save money and develop parts more rapidly while creating new devices that might never have been possible before.”
“We believe in what AmSkills is doing,” he continued. “By educating young minds to the potential of 3D printing, and now expanding that to military veterans and adults who have yet to find gainful employment, we believe Florida can become a template for companies in other states to follow.”
About Ultimate 3D Printing Store
About American Manufacturing Skills Initiativehttps://ultimate3dprintingstore.com/pages/liquid-crystal-polymer-printers