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Barry Johnson Senior Associate Dean and


L.A. Lacy Distinguished Professor of Engineering University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; CCAM Board of Directors


WorkForce W


orkforce development is arguably the most signifi- cant drag on the country’s advanced manufactur- ing sector.


We’re exploring a new workforce model in Virginia, how-


ever, that could give the sector the lift it needs to gain altitude. Don’t get me wrong. Advanced manufacturing is by no means stalled.


While the US is likely to continue losing labor-intensive manufacturing to low-wage regions of the world, it maintains a leadership position in specialized, highly technical produc- tion of next-generation materials and products. Aerospace and defense, microprocessors, networking equipment and phar- maceuticals, for example, are highly advanced manufacturing sectors that are not sending jobs overseas. Advanced manufacturing jobs, however, demand a high level of specialized and technical skill as new technologies and research breakthroughs continue to revolutionize manu- facturing capabilities, processes and products. Our work to grow advanced manufacturing in Virginia starts with a simple premise: bring the universities, commu- nity colleges, high schools, and training centers that educate the workforce together with the manufacturers that employ the workforce. Then, leverage the collaborative insight to sharpen existing training and educational opportunities. In March 2011, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) broke ground on a 60,000 ft2


, state-of-


the-art research collaborative in Price George County, Virginia (just south of Richmond). At CCAM, business and higher education sit down at the


same table to tackle R&D challenges. Industry sets the agen- da, and top academic and industry researchers pursue it in CCAM or University labs. The goal is to provide significant R&D efficiencies through pooled resources and to rapidly ac- celerate the transfer of innovations to the factory floor where they can improve operations, products and profits.


142 ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com | March 2013


Katherine DeRosear Director of Workforce Development Virginia Manufacturers Association Executive Director


Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills


Climbing Higher in Virginia FOCUS ON THE


Two classes of industry-funded research are performed


at CCAM: generic and directed. Generic and directed research are funded by membership fees paid by CCAM’s industry members. Directed research is performed for one member, or potentially several members that partner on a specific project. The member(s) sponsoring directed research own all intellectual property that results. Generic research is performed for all members and all members share resulting IP.


Industry members include aerospace and defense giants Rolls-Royce, Newport News Shipbuilding and Aerojet along with other global manufacturers, such as Canon Virginia, Chromalloy, Sandivk Coromant, Siemens and Sulzer Metco. Industry members are joined by Virginia’s flagship research and teaching institutions, including the University of Virginia, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech. Bridging the gap between basic research and technol- ogy commercialization, however, works best when people are properly trained.


A significant benefit of CCAM is the opportunity for mem- ber companies to work with students engaged in research projects. Companies can then employ those students in full-time positions as people and technology developments transition from the lab to the marketplace.


The Need is Clear The 2007 Skilled Trades Gap Analysis, a report com- missioned by the Virginia Manufacturers Association, found that job growth in skilled trades would far exceed the growth expected in other manufacturing occupations. It also unveiled an imbalance between the demand for skilled workers and the location of existing training programs: • Almost half of manufacturers surveyed rated soft skills and measurable skills preparation of recent entry-level hires as “fair” to “very poor.”


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