Energy Department Trains Veterans in Advanced Manufacturing

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August 15, 2014 - 11:30am

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.Today, the first 24 participants marked the successful completion of the Advanced Manufacturing Internship program, a pilot effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman addressed the interns and attendees at a ceremony at Pellissippi State Community College, and discussed the importance of the program for the energy sector and other industries. Deputy Secretary Poneman also announced the continuation of the Pellissippi program this fall with three semesters of training and a paid internship in the private sector.  To help expand the capacity for this new training in advanced manufacturing, DOE also plans to provide 3-D printers to the community college.

“To meet the evolving needs of the advanced manufacturing industry and keep us on the path towards a thriving 21st century economy, we have to get people trained and into the workforce,” Deputy Secretary Poneman said.  “The Advanced Manufacturing Internship shows how industry, government and academia can join together to tackle critical national challenges and create the workforce we need for the future.”

Funded by EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, Pellissippi State developed the curriculum and ORAU recruited participants from across the country.  The students – 14 veterans, three active duty military personnel, two reservists and five civilians – completed three weeks of classes at Pellissippi, two weeks of hands-on training at the ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF), and one week of carbon fiber composites training at the Science & Technology Park on ORNL’s main campus.

ORNL engineer Dr. Lonnie Love, who led the program at MDF, believes training veterans in emerging technologies can help meet U.S. demand for a skilled manufacturing workforce.  “There are literally thousands of veterans entering the civilian workforce each month,” Love said. “I’ve been so impressed with this inaugural class, and I love to work with our veterans.  Our industry partners are looking for a highly skilled workforce, and the veterans already bring to the table the discipline, teamwork, and commitment needed to develop these very specialized skills.”

On Thursday evening, at a career fair at ORAU in Oak Ridge, more than a dozen recruiters from advanced manufacturing companies were on hand to talk to any of those interns who were ready to move into the workforce.  Of the 24 students who have participated in this six-week internship, a number already have job offers, leads on potential jobs, and opportunities to continue their education.

The new program announced Friday by Deputy Secretary Poneman will begin later this month.  The Pellissippi State course will engage 20 students for three semesters where they’ll have access to 3-D printers made available by the Department of Energy. Students will supplement their classwork with internships at ORNL and local companies. “This is a remarkable public private partnership,” the Deputy Secretary said. “The Department of Energy will pay student tuition and fees for the certificate program and provide support to cover program costs. The hosting companies will provide stipends, housing, and travel for the interns.  The Department is also looking at opportunities to replicate the program elsewhere in the nation, especially where military bases and community colleges can collaborate to train transitioning service members.”

Deputy Secretary Poneman concluded his remarks Friday with a challenge to the 24 interns.  “As the first ever class, you have a special responsibility to establish a strong record out there in the workplace as ambassadors and mentors to all those that follow you.  Congratulations, now go out and make us proud.”

DOE will begin accepting applications for the second class of advanced manufacturing interns starting today. For more information about this program, you can visit http://orau.org/amwd/

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.  EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) partners with industry, small business, universities, and other stakeholders to identify and invest in emerging technologies with the potential to create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the global competitiveness of the United States. For more information on the Advanced Manufacturing Office in EERE, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office website. The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory helps industry adopt new manufacturing technologies to reduce life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production costs, and create new products and opportunities for high paying jobs.

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