Mohawk Valley Community College has received $599,943 in federal funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop Remote Lab-Sharing Models for Additive Manufacturing Skills Training to address the need for a skilled technician workforce in the emerging additive manufacturing sector.

“This funding will allow us to provide remote entry to our extensive 3D printing equipment thus increasing access to additive manufacturing training to those at institutions that do not have an additive manufacturing facility,” said Timothy Thomas, assistant vice president of Learning and Academic Affairs at MVCC.

This innovative program will provide comprehensive coursework for high school and college students while also providing focused skill-upgrade classes for workers already in manufacturing jobs. For existing industry technicians, the new credential provides a highly specialized, stand-alone certification in specific additive manufacturing competencies without requiring completion of a new degree. For students, the program provides a trades-focused skillset to complement theory and connect graduates to immediate technician employment.

MVCC, which operates a globally networked fabrication lab and hosts a Manufacturing Extension Partnership site, will work with local employers, as well as partnering colleges Finger Lakes Community College and Western Technical College, to develop a series of additive manufacturing courses for design technicians with a focus on new capabilities for 3D printing of metals. They also will test the curriculum’s efficacy for college students and secondary youth in both onsite- and remote-fabrication lab formats.

Students at the partnering institutions will be able to remotely access MVCC’s lab equipment to print prototypes, which will then be shipped back to their campuses. The curriculum will be designed for either seamless integration into existing two-year engineering technology programs or as a standalone micro-credential option for incumbent workers. Dual-credit high school courses and mini modules for existing high school courses also will be developed.

“Last year, the NSF provided MVCC with $557,487 of funding to create micro-credentials to support the training of the drone workforce,” Thomas added. “With this year’s funding, we will add to our micro-credential portfolio to broaden our workforce development impact beyond the drone arena.”

An emphasis of this project will be on engaging and recruiting students from underrepresented populations to promote their interest in manufacturing careers and broaden participation in the technician workforce. Course materials, project results, and best practices will be widely disseminated to encourage the adoption or adaptation of the approach by other colleges and institutions across the country. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.

Mohawk Valley Community College, established in 1946, is New York State’s first community college with a mission to provide accessible, high-quality educational opportunities for everyone. As the community’s college, MVCC is committed to student success through partnerships, transfer and career pathways, and personal enrichment. With campuses in Utica and Rome, MVCC is the region’s primary provider of college education, offering 90 degree and certificate options for its enrollment of 6,000 full- and part-time students. MVCC also serves an additional 6,000 people through its corporate and community education programs, and its campuses welcome more than 50,000 people annually for community events.