News | Nov. 3, 2021

DoD breathes life into the Industrial Skills Workforce Development Ecosystem

The Department of Defense’s Office of Industrial Policy (IndPol), through its Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program, has awarded Aeromarc, LLC a 36-month contract to continue its Electronics Manufacturing Technical Education pilot project.  The project, funded under IBAS’ National Imperative for Industrial Skills (“Skills Imperative”) initiative, develops and deploys industry and academia organization collaboration nodes throughout the U.S. in the form of 2-and-4-year engineering and technical/associate programs focused on electronics manufacturing, customizing each program to serve local industry needs.  This prototype effort demonstrates an approach DoD can cost-effectively deploy to address the defense electronics industry’s persistent skilled workforce gaps. 

Under the project framework, participating community colleges and universities team with industry partners to develop skilled workers for their hard-to-fill positions.  Each of the locally-guided industry/academia “nodes” defines a local consensus on the most critical near-term (1-3 year) electronics manufacturing technical staff needs.  The node then works with one or more local post-secondary educational organizations to collaboratively generate curricula to meet those needs.  Consideration is given so that industry partners are paired with one or more academic institutions that are both interested in the specific industry need(s) and positioned to make useful contributions in a tangible way to meet those needs.  Each of these partnerships are unique match-ups between industry-experienced subject matter experts (SMEs) and their training program content, and an educational institution’s strengths and capabilities. 

The Director of the IBAS Program, Ms. Adele Ratcliff stated, “I am confident that this effort will enable greater stakeholder cooperation across the U.S. electronics industrial base and encourage more partners to come forward to join the effort to facilitate the education and training of the next generation of assemblers, machine operators, and technicians, vital to the continued technological superiority of U.S. defense systems.” 

Electronics manufacturing (printed circuit, assembly, and packaging) industry SMEs are keenly interested in providing practical, experiential education to ensure that the U.S. electronics industry survives.  Many of those participating in this project are known and respected senior manufacturing industry engineers and are eager to share their experience in all aspects of the vital electronics manufacturing industry.  They donate their time and expertise to develop and deliver their lectures as instructors to cover each semester-long course.  The local academic and industry partners manage the overarching curriculum and integrate the guest lectures and experiential learning within certificate and existing 2-year technical and 4-year undergraduate engineering degree programs.

Aeromarc, LLC’s owner, Mr. Marc Carter, stated, “With Congress passing legislation that mandates printed circuit boards to be purchased from U.S. companies, it is more critical than ever to build the electronics workforce to support those requirements.  Today’s “difficult to fill” positions are anticipated to become future “unable to fill” positions without the training and education programs that this collaboration brings.”

Aeromarc, LLC’s growing industry/academia network began with collaborative efforts across nearly 20 industry partners, and this project brings an additional 12 industry/academia partnerships.

“The Electronics Manufacturing Technical Education pilot project can address a critical gap in the U.S. electronics supply chain and reduce dependence on foreign sources for sensitive electronic components,” said Mr. Jesse Salazar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy.

For additional information on this project, please email the IBAS team at osd.pentagon.ousd-a-s.mbx.ibas@mail.mil