Advanced Manufacturing Certification Program Offered to Detroit, Pittsburgh Small Businesses Recovering from Pandemic

LIFT’s “Operation Next” expands beyond military with funding provided through CARES Act; 250 workers to receive advanced manufacturing training

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute and part of the Manufacturing USA network, today opened its “Operation Next” advanced manufacturing certification program to industry for the first time to support small and medium-sized manufacturers recovering from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new civilian program, funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and awarded to LIFT by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, will support the training of 250 workers, at no cost to the individuals or their employer, in Detroit and Pittsburgh.  The workers will participate in industry-standard training in CNC machine operations, industrial technology maintenance, welding and robotics.

Operation Next features a hybrid curriculum – online theory combined with performance-based activities and assessment – and its accelerated pace is ideal for reskilling or upskilling incumbent workers. Completers will earn industry recognized credentials from the National Institute of Metal Working Skills and American Welding Society.

“At the heart of any business is its employees, so supporting our country’s small and medium-sized manufacturers means we need to help them find the talent and provide them with the skills to succeed,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “Manufacturing is at the heart of our economy and national security, and this program helps get our manufacturers back on track.”

“We are very pleased that LIFT has leveraged its workforce program to upskill and retool workers impacted by the pandemic,” said NIST’s Mojdeh Bahar, associate director of innovation and industry services. “The program will achieve the goal for this funding by at once supporting high-impact projects and providing  access to in-person and on-line training opportunities to learn new skills in advanced manufacturing. It provides rewarding careers for the trainees, skilled workers for manufacturers, and helps strengthen the regional and national economy. It is a win-win proposition.”

In Detroit, LIFT is partnering with the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) to bring manufacturers into the program. In Pittsburgh, performance-based training will be held at the Community College of Allegheny County or New Century Careers.

Initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Operation Next is an innovative manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative for separating military personnel. This marks the second expansion of Operation Next, and the first into the commercial industrial sector. In late 2019, LIFT announced the Department of Defense would support the program’s expansion over the next three years to nine new military installations, the National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses around the country.

Learn more about Operation Next at


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.