HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State Community College is sending a team to Auburn this week to compete in the Department of Defense (DOD) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) inaugural “Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge” hosted by Auburn University.

The four-person Wallace State team consists of mentor Roy Manley of Mach III, Inc., machine tool technology students Auston Ricks and Zeb Rushing and welding student Jacob Humphrey. Gary McMinn, Wallace State’s Machine Tool Technology Department Chair, is serving as the team sponsor.

The Challenge, planned for Thursday-Saturday, is a series of event-based competitive skills challenges in which teams will compete in 5-axis machining and welding skills. The Department of Defense Project MFG announced the launch of the Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge to address the number one crisis facing the US manufacturing industry  – a critical shortage of skilled workers. American companies are expected to be short 2.4 million skilled workers over the next 10 years, unless the industry is able to attract young people to replace an aging workforce in which 2.7 million manufacturing professionals are preparing to retire.

“This is a big deal for Wallace State, and we have a lot of talent representing us from both our machine tool and welding programs. This is the first competition like this, and we’re honored it’s in Alabama,” said Wallace State Dean of Applied Technologies Jimmy Hodges. “I can tell you it’s going to be challenging. Our students have been working hard with Roy Manley. We’re excited to showcase our skills.”

Other teams competing are from Calhoun, Southern Union and Central Alabama Community College. The winning team will be crowned Alabama state champion and be awarded a cash prize.

“Auburn University is proud to host the first Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge. Auburn, with our partners in the Alabama Community College System and Industry, are committed to developing the best and most skilled manufacturing workforce in the country and this Challenge is a tool to help push the limits on advanced manufacturing capability in Alabama,” said Dr. Gregory Harris, P.E., Director of the Southern Alliance for Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing and associate professor at Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

Added Jeff Lynn, Vice Chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development for the Alabama Community College System: “The Alabama Community College System is extremely excited to work with Auburn University on this Competition that prepares our students with the necessary skills needed in the manufacturing world.”

Project MFG: Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge is a collaboration of industry, academic, and defense partners from around the US. The Challenge will culminate in a national competition at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago in September 2020.

To learn more about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.

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