GREENVILLE, SC — Renishaw and the Center for Manufacturing Innovation at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC teamed to address the manufacturing skills gap, and train the next generation of engineers and machine operators.

The collaboration between education, industry and community partners combines education/training, research and economic development in a region of the country where the aerospace, power generation and automotive industries are rapidly developing. Additionally, CMI’s status as an Enterprise Campus makes it possible for the program to contribute to the local economy through production and delivery of goods and services.

“We expect this program to have a big impact on this area’s manufacturing industry,” said David Clayton, executive director of CMI. “Estimates show a need for thousands of new manufacturing jobs in the region over the coming years, so we feel this program is an important part of the region’s economic development.”

The CMI campus includes a 100,000 square-foot facility with a metrology lab, prototyping lab, pneumatics/hydraulics lab and additive manufacturing area. Students take courses in industrial automation, robotics, CNC machining, manufacturing management, metrology/quality management, process design and Lean Six Sigma, among others.

There are currently 15 educators on the CMI staff and nearly 200 students enrolled at the Center. Renishaw has committed a four-person staff to the program as well as a host of the company’s equipment. Renishaw’s Lucy Ackland and Bill Cox are program liasons and two engineers are on-hand for demo support and assistance. Students are learning part measurement on the Equator Gaging System, calibrating machines with the QC20-W wireless ballbar, and setting up machines with an assortment of Renishaw probes and styli. The company also placed one of its AM400 additive manufacturing systems at CMI.

“Additive is the future of manufacturing and we have one of the most advance metal additive machines available, right here for our students to learn on,” said Scotty Nicholson, machine tool instructor, CMI. “To provide access to the equipment that our students will actually use upon graduation gives our program an elite status."

It is estimated that, nationwide, more than 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the next 10 years. The CMI program at Greenville Tech, presented as part of an educational partnership with Clemson University, provides a direct path to employment, and employers get the benefit of highly skilled employees. There are 4 career centers in Greenville County and 16 high schools that feed students into CMI, as well as an apprenticeship program with many major employers. Students earn a two-year degree and are typically funnelled directly into manufacturing jobs where the average salary is currently $63,936 for associates-degree holders in Greenville County.

Clemson University’s CU-ICAR program and the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum have also partnered for the past five years to present, “All Girls AUTO Know.” This program aims to empower and expose girls to the automotive industry with a focus on automotive engineering. Area high schools send students who would most benefit from this program, and presenters include representatives from Michelin, BMW, Draexelmeier, SAGE, Clemson WISE and GTC.  Renishaw’s Lucy Ackland spoke at this year’s event, representing the CMI program.

“We see the importance of addressing the manufacturing skills gap, and this is a natural way for us to get involved,” said Howard Salt, president of Renishaw, Inc. “We consider this a pilot program for similar partnerships across the United States. For regions in the country that specialize in specific industries, like aerospace, oil & gas or semiconductors, our goal is to work with educational institutions and local business to train future manufacturing professionals on the latest manufacturing technologies. This dovetails with our company initiative to develop manufacturing technology, especially additive, through collaboration. We’re opening Solutions Centers around the world for customers to come in and use the available additive and process control technologies with our experts to address their manufacturing needs.”

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