EFSC establishing advanced composites learning centre

August 12, 2021 - United States Of America

A new advanced composites learning centre is being established at Eastern Florida State College (EFSC). The centre has been designed to educate and train composites technicians to support Florida's Space Coast manufacturing region. The EFSC advanced composites technician learning centre will greatly enhance the college's existing composites programme.

Led by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI-The Composites Institute, the national workforce initiative is part of the US Department of Defence (DOD) Office of Naval Research's Manufacturing Engineering Education Programme (MEEP). MEEP programmes prepare current and next-generation manufacturing workers to produce military systems and components that assure defence technological leadership.

"Eastern Florida State College is strategically located in the heart of Florida's Space Coast region and has a high concentration of defence, space, aerospace and marine industries who support DOD projects vital to our economy and national security," said Joannie Harmon, workforce director for IACMI. "Advanced composites materials are critical to the defence industry. The Advanced Composites Career Pathway (ACCP) programme sponsored through DOD focuses on training the current and future workforce with the manufacturing skills necessary to sustaining the defence innovation base."

IACMI and collaborators are establishing a national Advanced Composites Career Pathways (ACCP) learning network to develop a skilled advanced composites manufacturing workforce. It is based on the best-in-class programme at Davis Technology College in Utah and adapted to the needs of regional ecosystems. Similar learning centres are underway in Alabama at Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise and in New York at the Composites Prototyping Centre in Long Island.

Representatives from EFSC and the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Programme (SCCAP) participated in a week-long train-the-trainer course at Davis Tech in Kaysville, Utah. Davis Tech is recognised nationally for its composites education programme and for serving the DOD manufacturing supply chain. The college has created a model curriculum aligned to industry needs and staffed with highly trained instructors. IACMI has teamed with them to scale out a regional customisable training programme based on that model across the US to fill labour gaps with highly skilled technicians in the composites industry.

The new EFSC advanced composites technician learning centre will greatly enhance the college's existing composites programme, serve local industry hiring requirements, and provide alignment with DOD innovations in materials, processes, and technologies in advanced composites manufacturing.

"The new Advanced Composites Learning Centre further strengthens EFSC's leading role in training a new generation of highly skilled workers for the Department of Defence, NASA and high-tech companies," said EFSC president Dr. Jim Richey. "The sky is the limit on what we can accomplish through such programmes with our valued partners. EFSC has a long history and dedication to the east Florida region's composite manufacturing industry through its two-year aerospace and engineering technology degree programmes."

These composites concentrations were designed and developed in part utilising SpaceTEC and CertTEC fibre composite standards and certifications. Through these programmes, EFSC has successfully placed its students into the local workforce either directly, or through work-based learning programmes such as internships and apprenticeships.

EFSC is the local education partner for the SCCAP, an industry-driven apprenticeship programme supported under the auspices of SpaceTEC Partners. The SCCAP is an autonomous committee led by key Space Coast advanced manufacturing companies. These includeKnight's Armament Company, Airbus OneWeb Satellites, Blue Origin, Vaya Space, RUAG Space USA, Diamondback America, ITT/Matrix Composites, Structural Composites, Compsys, Precision Shapes and Roswell Marine. SCCAP is a State of Florida-registered apprenticeship programme and currently offers three apprenticeship occupations - Mechatronics Technician, Advanced Machinist and Fibre Composites Technician.

Bryan Kamm, SCCAP founder and lead advisor, said: "It is a great honour and privilege to work along-side EFSC, SpaceTEC, IACMI and Davis Technical College in the development of our Fibre Composite Technician apprenticeship programme." "The IACMI ACCP grant will help assure that our apprenticeship programme will follow the best standards and curriculum available in the US and will produce a capable, skilled workforce to meet the needs of manufacturers within the DOD industrial base."