Suncoast Technical College recently competed in the 3rd annual Project MFG National Competition. This was STC first time in this arena.
They had to compete at local and regional to qualify for the National competition held at Wichita State Tech, Wichita, KS. Only 4 teams make it to the finals.
It is billed as Advanced Integrated manufacturing contest that represents a typical 2-day work period in industry. In which projects have a deadline to deliver and meet all specifications and costs. Today’s companies need to meet tough requirements like the Dept of Defense. In which Advanced methods need to be used to produce high quality components on time and under budget. Sometimes in a very short time period. Like next week for example. Think of Javelin missiles that are being used in the Ukraine.
The Dept of Defense has identified our skills gap and need to train more people and also Advanced training – Like Advanced 5 Axis CNC machining. This technology is also being explored and used by all manufacturing to be competitive in todays world.
STC Precision Machining Program decided to enter the competition to see what it was about. We had to pick a team of 4. We needed to precision machine 2 components and assemble. We also need to weld another component complete. Do that in (2) 8-hour days and submit for inspection. To move forward it needed to be complete, pass inspection and be done in 16 hours for costs. One catch though. It was recommended that the machined components needed to be done in a 5 axis CNC Machining center. STC does not have a 5 axis CNC machine. So we did it in our 4 axis machine. We also don’t teach welding as a course. We do teach a basic introduction to welding. About one week. Nothing ventured , nothing gained.
Then we got the notice we passed and were going to regional competition in Illinois. Plus this time we had to use a Haas UMC 750 5 axis CNC machining center – that we never used before. But the team came together and completed all tasks and moved on to the Finals.
In the finals we had 3 teams that all have a Haas UMC 750 5 axis. All 3 schools have been in Project MFG before. This was Suncoast tech first time. A one-year county tech school program vs established 2-year college programs. We had 2 teammates with about 7 hours of CNC 5 Axis experience from Illinois. Our Lead CadCam programmer was a high school senior that is in the ½ day CTE Program – CNC Production Specialist. But they are confident.
At Finals it was a great week at Wichita State U – Tech (National Institute for Aviation Research). It was a lofty goal but even with some hiccups we completed the project. We did finish 4th place and the school won $2500. The STC team members each received $5,000 ($1500 each and $3500 of tools). There was NO cost to compete. We were able compete with the best and learn from this challenge. We also hope to spread the word to other schools that this is a worthy competition to help our students reach higher goals.
We all really enjoyed this competition and great to be among other skilled trades.
We hope to be back next year and hopefully upgrade our CNC equipment to venture into Advanced 5 axis machining as well at STC. CNC Machining is NOT inexpensive, but it is the standard way products are produced in today’s world. It’s a great career with limitless boundaries.
Stay Tuned to a one hour show on Project MFG YOUTUBE channel –
For a video of the complete competition coming soon
Integrated Advanced Manufacturing – Project MFG
An interdisciplinary team with CNC Machine programming, welding, metrology and machining skills compete in a two-day challenge to create a product to required specifications.
For the 2022 National Championship, four of the most skilled student teams in the trades came together for the integrated manufacturing competition to find out who welds, Cad/Cam programs and CNC machines their way to the title of Project MFG national champion. The Grand Prize is $100,000
This competition reflects the advanced manufacturing workplace and requires the production of a product – In a normal 2 day time frame.
We create a fast paced work environment that simulates the way it is in modern manufacturing.
We want to improve the lives of young people and America’s future.
When schools, industry and government work together, we all win. Students gain skills to succeed, schools increase capacity to teach more students, industry has more qualified job candidates and U.S. manufacturing becomes more competitive as we level up the industrial workforce.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program provides funding for Project MFG under its National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative. According to The Manufacturing Institute, the skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades—and could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. The DoD declared this deficit one of the most vital challenges for the U.S. defense industrial base. Project MFG is working to prevent this shortfall by empowering the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals—by attracting top student talent to compete, shaping new narratives and igniting investment so more students can enroll in high-skill, high-tech programs.