Feb. 17, 2016
 
Supporters Speak Out for Manufacturing

Nearly 100 industry executives, community leaders and students gathered in the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab at Harper College Feb. 3 for the 2016 State of Manufacturing address by Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington. Timmons’ remarks highlighted the vital role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy and the need to change negative perceptions of manufacturing to attract and train the thousands of workers the industry will need in the coming decades.

Also on hand were representatives from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Rockford, Ill., which helped to fund the expansion of the suburban Chicago lab with a $500,000 grant. The new facility supports Harper’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, which will train up to 600 students each year for high tech manufacturing careers in mechatronics/automation, precision machining, metal fabrication and supply chain management/logistics.

The lab will house a range of equipment such as lasers, turrets, press brakes and robotic welders, some of which are being donated by FMA members. Companies that have donated or pledged to donate equipment to the new facility so far include a laser cutter from MC Machinery, a press brake and tooling from Amada, a robotic welding cell from Miller Electric, and a plasma table from ESAB. “It’s really donations of use since companies plan to change out the machines periodically to ensure that students are learning on the newest equipment,” says Kurt Billsten, coordinator of Advanced Manufacturing at Harper College.

The $500,000 FMA grant has a unique structure, says Ed Youdell, FMA president and CEO, as $400,000 will be released over the next five years and will be contingent on enrollment benchmarks, while $100,000 will go to manufacturing students who qualify for the Harper Promise Scholarship. “The college has to grow the program in order to take full advantage of the grant, and the timed disbursements will keep the association actively engaged in the process.” FMA hopes to duplicate the program in other parts of the U.S. based on its experience and success at Harper College.
 

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Monday, October 23, 2017