Department of Energy celebrating manufacturing workforce of tomorrow

The Department of Energy (DOE) celebrates Manufacturing Day with several initiatives designed to enhance career and workforce development programs for young engineers.

By Kelly Speakes-Backman October 1, 2021
Courtesy: Cincinnati Incorporated

Organized by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Manufacturing Day is our opportunity to give America’s next generation of innovators a look at advanced manufacturing. Today, we showcase our most exciting career and workforce development programs.

One out of every 12 workers—over 12 million people—are employed in manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With such a large and diverse workforce, there is a rapidly growing range of opportunities for students of all disciplines to develop careers in next-generation manufacturing and industrial decarbonization. At DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), we are focused on equipping American manufacturers with the skills they need to boost domestic energy productivity, decarbonize their own operations, and win the race in a rapidly decarbonizing global economy.

Innovators at DOE’s National Labs, as well as AMO’s own manufacturing institutes and research consortia, are embarking on new projects across the manufacturing sector. These include the announcement of four new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers to help optimize manufactures’ use of energy and materials through specialized training and direct industry engagement; new funding for 11 projects with the potential to advance manufacturing technologies and practices; new funding to develop desalination technologies that will help bring freshwater supplies to communities across the nation; and numerous initiatives and investments as part of the recent “Future of Manufacturing Week.”

To grow our clean energy economy and meet this Administration’s decarbonization goals, millions of new manufacturing jobs will be created over the next 10 years. Today’s students could be tomorrow’s manufacturing leaders; they will create aircraft, cars, turbines, and clean energy products that will sustain America’s leadership in manufacturing for generations to come. At EERE, we are laser-focused on equipping future manufacturing workers with the technologies and skills they need to accelerate our progress toward a carbon-free economy.

AMO has launched several initiatives across the office’s technology portfolio to address the needs of community college students, undergrad/graduate students, and workers currently employed in manufacturing. They include:

  • Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) which create opportunities for students to attain real-world industrial experience by participating in free energy assessments for small-to-medium-sized manufacturers, helping them save money and become more sustainable.
  • University-based traineeships at Georgia Tech, the University of ConnecticutVirginia Tech, and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
  • The Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program offers postdoctoral researchers opportunities to develop their research into commercialized products while training them to be entrepreneurs.
  • The Robotics Internship Program provides opportunities for students and recent graduates to intern at DOE national laboratories, and work on technologies used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human action.
  • Technical assistance programs such as the 50001 Ready program, CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships, and the Better Plants program provide trainings to manufacturing workers to increase their understanding of efficiency technologies and improve their energy management practices.
  • Education & workforce development programs through each of DOE’s six Manufacturing USA Institutes.
  • The Energy Storage Internship Program allows students and recent graduates to focus on the development of newer chemistries, battery designs and manufacturing processes needed to usher changes in energy storage.

AMO’s workforce development initiatives will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. AMO periodically hosts workshops with manufacturers and employees to identify workforce challenges across different manufacturing sectors and develop programs that target those challenges. This year, these workshops are helping AMO develop an education and workforce development “roadmap.” This ongoing collaboration helps AMO design initiatives that proactively address the workforce needs of America’s manufacturing sector, with hands-on input from those who are hiring the workforce of tomorrow.

This Manufacturing Day, AMO is offering prospective job-seekers some insight into what careers in today’s advanced manufacturing sector look like. Follow EERE’s twitter account throughout the day for insight into the world of American advanced manufacturing, and visit AMO’s Manufacturing Day landing page, which features:

  • Inside CoMet: An interactive, 360-degree virtual tour of the Composite Manufacturing Education and Technology (CoMET) Facility. Here, researchers conduct groundbreaking work to design, prototype, validate, and manufacture composite wind and marine turbine blades and other components in one location.
  • A Peek Inside Modern Manufacturing in America: A visual story showcasing examples of the wide range of modern manufacturing jobs and highlighting AMO workforce initiatives.
  • Picture This: Modern Manufacturing Jobs: A photo gallery showcasing work from across AMO’s portfolio of work depicting the modern manufacturing workforce in action.

– Edited from a Department of Energy press release by CFE Media.

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Author Bio: Kelly Speakes-Backman, principal deputy assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy