LIFT Celebrates Smarter Manufacturing Career Exploration Project, Fostering Smarter Manufacturing Talent Pathways in Flint Region

Collaborators include area leaders in education, business and workforce development

FLINT, Mich. – LIFT, a Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, today celebrated the students participating in its Smarter Manufacturing Career Exploration program – a talent development project to better prepare students in the Flint region for careers in smarter and advanced manufacturing – at a Smarter Manufacturing Career Exploration event in Flint.

The initiative is providing educational pathways related to smarter manufacturing careers. This includes the development and piloting of a Smarter Manufacturing Career Exploration model to provide scalable and equitable work-based learning opportunities for high school students to access smarter manufacturing facilities and professionals in a virtual environment.

The project, funded through the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Program, is focused on careers in three emerging smarter manufacturing technologies most critical to the region:

  • Digital Twin
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Robotics

The celebration event, held at the Genesee Career Institute, featured Mott Community College’s Mobile Lab, allowing students to engage in hands-on advanced manufacturing activities, including robotics, additive manufacturing, and welding simulations.

“We are bringing knowledge and opportunities in a burgeoning field to students in the Flint area, for successful careers in advanced manufacturing,” said Phaedra Wainaina, Senior Director of Education and Workforce Development, LIFT. “With our partners and collaborators, we are poised to help students forge a new path toward in-demand careers in advanced manufacturing.”

LIFT worked with regional partners and industry members to lead the development of the model and conduct this initial pilot implementation with one cohort of students with the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD).

The GISD is excited to partner with LIFT to bring smarter manufacturing career awareness to students in Genesee County,” said Diana Allard, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education, Genesee Intermediate School District. “These high wage, high demand career opportunities are important to the future success of Genesee County. Working together to help students and parents in our community understand the opportunities that exist is vital to our continued economic development.”

This project is part of a larger effort to define educational pathways toward careers in smarter manufacturing and share the educational technologies most critical to the region’s future in advanced manufacturing. Working with leading regional educational stakeholders, including Genesee Intermediate School District, Mott Community College, University of Michigan-Flint, Kettering Global, Flint and Genesee Group and Epic Machine, LIFT initially launched an exploratory regional initiative in Flint in June 2020 to identify regional challenges, assets, and opportunities in preparing students toward a smarter manufacturing careers. An initial analysis of regional opportunities identified strong individual training providers, but an opportunity to better coordinate advanced manufacturing educational pathways.

LIFT and its collaborators developed the Smarter Manufacturing Career Exploration program to help address these challenges. The pilot featured a virtual ‘gameboard’ featuring interactive learning modules and activities showcasing careers in Robotics, Digital Twinning, and Advanced Data Analytics. Students also participated in small group virtual mentoring sessions with young professionals, several from Siemens, a LIFT platinum member, who provided career guidance on working in the industry.

“Mott Community College is pleased to partner with LIFT and the GISD on this virtual career exploration program through our new Mobile Learning Lab,” said Robert Matthews, Associate Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development. “The global marketplace requires high levels of technical knowledge and skills, and at MCC we are committed to helping prepare students for their future.”

Following the pilot, outcomes and lessons learned will be evaluated in order to adjust the model as needed. Once the model is fully developed, LIFT intends to make available to additional schools across the state and country.