What began in 2003 as a group focused on machining projects specifically related to the manufacturing needs of the U.S. Department of Defense has today grown into a self-sustaining organization – taking on large advanced manufacturing programs with higher-value impact.
The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), a not-for-profit organization based in Blairsville and employing around 35 full-time professionals, provides well-crafted solutions to companies working to provide technological advances to the DoD, said Scott Deutsch, Communications Manager.
The organization is 100 percent self-funded through a fee-for-service model. Its headquarters location along US Route 22 in Blairsville offers ready access to advanced manufacturing technology and a highly qualified Alliance Partner network. NCDMM also has locations in Chambersburg, PA and Youngstown, Ohio, the home of America Makes, a program driven by NCDMM as the national accelerator of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology.
“We’re collaborators and innovators,” Deutsch said. “NCDMM gets involved with various agencies of the Defense Department that have needs in the world of advanced manufacturing. We are a trusted, agile partner focused on the needs of our clients — connecting innovative solution providers and delivering results that have impact for the men and women serving in defense of our nation."
NCDMM’s portfolio of advanced manufacturing innovation and technologies include automation and robotics, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, metrology and inspection, along with many others. NCDMM’s legacy of success can be found across many military platforms including aircraft, helicopters and rotorcraft, missiles and munitions, land vehicles, and personnel equipment.
Practically next door to the NCDMM facility in Blairsville stands the campus of WyoTech, a comprehensive technical school that educates and houses some 250 students from a wide portion of the U.S. Concentrating on three core areas: automobile technology, diesel technology and collision/refinishing, WyoTech provides intensive classroom instruction and extensive hands-on experience.
“We conduct a full eight-hour day with our students, every day,” said Arnold Thimons, Director of Student Success at WyoTech. “The idea is to set standards and metrics just like a real job. Everything is conducted as professionals. For us to continue, we need to offer great training and prepare our students for graduation and a career – not just a job.”
WyoTech certainly has done well in that regard. Volvo and Mack Truck, for instance, have shared a proprietary program with WyoTech, in which students who qualify have direct access to Diesel Advanced Technology Education. Once completed, many of these students are placed in Volvo/Mack dealers across the country. Placement rates for all WyoTech students are similarly high, said Thimons.
“A skills gap is coming,” he said. “We’re looking for students with a passion. We graduate highly skilled technicians who leave here with positions and salaries that can support a family. College is not the only option anymore.”
High school students from the seven Indiana County school districts can take advantage of a facility providing a comprehensive array of trade and industrial training.
The Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC), a secondary and accredited post-secondary school located just outside of Indiana Borough, offers instruction in technical and career areas for students on a half-day format. The other half-day is spent at the student’s home district in academic classes.
“We have around 430 students here, with enrollment increasing each year,” said Eric Palmer, ICTC Director. “That represents a change in how people see the trades today, along with the trade skills gap that’s coming.” ICTC also offers accredited career training programs for post-secondary students across the region, as well.”
Areas of concentration include: construction and building trades, manufacturing, digital arts, automotive technologies, public service trades and information technology. Post-secondary areas like cosmetology, welding, metal fabrication and machining also are offered.
“In 2016, ICTC ranked as one of the top 13 of 84 career and tech centers in Pennsylvania based on our students’ performance,” Palmer added. “Students also benefit from partnerships with area industries like PPG and others. Plus, ICTC also received the PA Career and Technical Education Excellence Award. We have an extraordinary school.”