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News | May 13, 2019

Project MFG: Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge

The Department of Defense, through its Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) program, recently held the second competition event of Project MFG: Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge in Meridian, Mississippi to address the number one crisis facing the U.S. manufacturing industry—a critical shortage of skilled workers. American companies are expected to be short 2.4 million skilled workers over the next 10 years, unless the industry is able to attract young people to replace an aging workforce in which 2.7 million manufacturing professionals are preparing to retire.

The Challenge is a series of event-based competitive skills challenges in which teams comprised of a mentor paired with student machinists and welders compete in 5-axis machining and welding skills.

The Challenge kicked off on April 26 and 27 in Auburn, Alabama, where four teams faced off and the winning team took home a $5,000 purse. On May 10 and 11, the Meridian event took center stage at the Riley Workforce Development Center at Meridian Community College, where teams competed for the Mississippi State Championship and a $5,000 top prize.

“Mississippi State University welcomes the opportunity to participate as a coordinating partner alongside Meridian Community College in the launch of this exciting new initiative. We look forward to working with other partners in the coming months and with Mississippi's Community Colleges to grow and sustain these events for future generations of Mississippi technical students,” said Randy Jones, director of Mississippi State University Institute for Systems Engineering Research.

“Hosting a Challenge event is one of the ways Meridian Community College is helping to lead the future of the manufacturing industry in America. We are pleased to participate in the launch of this new initiative,” said Brian Warren, chairman of the industrial division at Meridian Community College and the coordinator and instructor of the Precision Manufacturing and Machining Technology Programs.

“This is a critical time for America,” noted A. Adele Ratcliff, Director of IBAS. “The development of the manufacturing trade professionals is critical to economic and national security. The development pipeline is not keeping pace. We must have industry, government and educational institutions working together locally to elevate the prestige of the trade professions and better align our educational programs with industry requirements to accelerate the growth of our workforce pipeline.”

Project MFG: Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge is a collaboration of industry, academic, and defense partners from around the United States. The Challenge will culminate in a national competition at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September 2020.


For more information please contact Adele Ratcliff at a.a.ratcliff.civ@mail.mil or Ray Dick at rdick@freedomsforge.org.