IACMI Expands Advanced Composites Training to Support Florida's Space Coast Manufacturing Workforce

July 29, 2021

Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) is newest home to an advanced composites learning center designed to educate and train composites technicians to support Florida's Space Coast manufacturing region.

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

"Eastern Florida State College is strategically located in the heart of Florida's Space Coast region and has a high concentration of defense, 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 defense industry. The Advanced Composites Career Pathway (ACCP) program sponsored through DOD focuses on training the current and future workforce with the manufacturing skills necessary to sustaining the defense 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 program at Davis Technology College in Utah and adapted to the needs of regional ecosystems. Similar learning centers are underway in Alabama at Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise and in New York at the Composites Prototyping Center in Long Island.

This week, representatives from EFSC and the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program (SCCAP) are at Davis Tech in Kaysville, Utah, participating in a week-long train-the-trainer course. Davis Tech is recognized nationally for its composites education program 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 customizable training program based on that model across the U.S. to fill labor gaps with highly skilled technicians in the composites industry.

The new EFSC advanced composites technician learning center will greatly enhance the college's existing composites program, 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 Center further strengthens EFSC's leading role in training a new generation of highly skilled workers for the Department of Defense, NASA and high-tech companies," said EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey. "The sky is the limit on what we can accomplish through such programs 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 programs."

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

EFSC is the local education partner for the SCCAP, an industry-driven apprenticeship program supported under the auspices of SpaceTEC Partners, Inc. 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 program and currently offers three apprenticeship occupations: Mechatronics Technician, Advanced Machinist and Fiber Composites Technician.

Comments from Industry Leaders

Bryan Kamm, SCCAP Founder and Lead Advisor"It is a great honor and privilege to work along-side EFSC, SpaceTEC, IACMI and Davis Technical College in the development of our Fiber Composite Technician apprenticeship program," says Bryan Kamm, SCCAP Founder and Lead Advisor. "The IACMI ACCP grant will help assure that our apprenticeship program 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."

Steve Kane, Executive Director of SpaceTEC Partners, Inc."I'm grateful SpaceTEC Partners, Inc.'s relationship with IACMI and the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program partners played a role in EFSC's selection for this important strategic initiative," Steve Kane, Executive Director of SpaceTEC Partners, Inc.. "Garnering the support of IACMI to establish this regional training center further demonstrates the Space Coast region of Central Florida has the resources and capabilities to produce world-class technicians."

Art Hoelke, VP & General Manager for Knight's Armament and SCCAP's Chair"SCCAP is working hard to fill the local industry with a qualified workforce", says Art Hoelke, VP & General Manager for Knight's Armament and SCCAP's Chair. "Our economy is only as strong as its workforce, and that strength is bolstered by a system that provides workers with access to the skills and training needed to be productive. SCCAP is looking forward to getting the fiber composite apprenticeship up and running in the coming months. It is a team effort from our local industry academia to the state and local government leaders."

Scott Lewit, President of Structural Composites, Inc."Fiber Reinforced Composites are moving into many new and exciting applications," said Scott Lewit, President of Structural Composites, Inc.  "At Structural Composites, we have deployed composites derived from the marine industry into the transportation market. Wabash National uses composites for semi-trailers, truck bodies, and the growing final mile delivery network.  We are also moving composites into the rail market, automotive market, and recently installed the first composite bridge deck in Tennessee moving the technology into the infrastructure market. We fully support the need for trained composites technicians to meet the demand for these and other rapidly growing markets for composites."

Mark Miller, Site Leader for ITT/Matrix Composites"As an advanced composites manufacturer supplying flight critical and structural composite parts to our nation's defense, commercial, general aviation, and space industries, our team at ITT/Matrix Composites could not be more excited about this new learning center landing on our doorsteps," said Mark Miller, Site Leader for ITT/Matrix Composites. "With the tremendous growth taking place within our industry, developing a pipeline of highly skilled and trained technicians will be essential for growth and continued success. The teams at EFSC, SpaceTEC, SCCAP and IACMI are outstanding professional partners, focused on excellence, and we are excited to be working with them once again!"