Back in May, SME announced the first national Additive Manufacturing Certifications, as its workforce development arm, Tooling U-SME, sought to provide a validation of knowledge in additive manufacturing. America Makes was recently named as the exclusive co-sponsor of the new certification programs. Education is increasingly in focus in an ever-more-digital world with advanced manufacturing taking its place as an in-demand skill in the workforce. As additive manufacturing in particular becomes more of a presence in the professional world, knowing that those working with the technology are skilled in doing so will bring many businesses peace of mind as they continue to invest in industrial equipment often costing from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. Through the recently introduced certification program, Tooling U-SME and America Makes are seeking to broaden the availability of a single national certification that ensures experience and knowledge.
“Strong certification programs such as this are a key to the advancement, acceleration and adoption of additive manufacturing, both across education and industry, as well as a critical factor for developing a skilled workforce. America Makes is pleased to partner with Tooling U-SME to provide this resource to our membership and beyond,” said Leanne Gluck, Deputy Director for Workforce and Education at America Makes.
Available through the program are the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification and Additive Manufacturing Technician Certification, the first of their kind to validate industry-standard concepts in AM. Such a move is an indicator of the widening influence of 3D printing in the professional world, as most industries operate with well-known certification programs in place.
“We’re proud to have America Makes join us as the co-sponsor of these additive manufacturing certification programs,” said Jeannine Kunz, Vice President of Tooling U-SME. “This collaboration reinforces our commitment to the additive manufacturing and 3D printing community. By partnering with America Makes, we’re able to extend our outreach to the workforce and tackle the impending skills gap that the advanced manufacturing industry is facing.”
The certifications are exam-based programs with accompanying skills guides. For the Additive Manufacturing Fundamental Certification, an exam-only program builds fundamental knowledge for those new to additive manufacturing technologies, including a recommended reading list; the intent of the Additive Manufacturing Technician Certification is to both support knowledge application and build skills for entry-level additive technicians. The latter program is designed as a pre-cursor to an additive manufacturing technician apprenticeship program.
Tooling U-SME’s Kunz has provided additional detail regarding the newly announced America Makes sponsorship, as well as background and more detail into the certifications, as I had A Few Questions For her to learn more about what these programs offer in the additive manufacturing industry. Kunz, who has been keeping an eye on how to make way with additive technologies, leads a team at Tooling U-SME described as being dedicated to the ongoing education of the manufacturing workforce.
How did the partnership between America Makes and Tooling U-SME come about? What makes these organizations logical partners?
“From 2012 to 2013, Debbie Holton, one of SME’s senior executive staff members, served as acting Deputy Director of Technology Transition for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute – now America Makes.
In 2013, as part of a joint effort between SME (the parent organization of Tooling U-SME), America Makes (then known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute), and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, forming the Additive Manufacturing Leadership Initiative (AMLI) to address the need for high-quality, readily accessible, and reusable learning solutions for the additive manufacturing sector. The groups aligned to support and accelerate awareness of additive manufacturing, career paths for the American manufacturing sector, and topics that are critical to the ongoing growth of this sector.
It made perfect sense for Tooling U-SME and America Makes to collaborate, as both organizations have a mutual purpose: to develop the incumbent and future additive manufacturing workforce, while providing high-quality education and training.
Although technology tends to come in advance of workforce development, adoption of additive manufacturing technology has been slower compared to traditional manufacturing processes and technologies; however, this can change as we increase awareness of the extraordinary benefits of the technology, and that will prompt training and development.
SME has been involved in additive manufacturing for decades, working on solutions to advance the technology and as the workforce development arm of this 85 year-old organization, Tooling U-SME has developed and launched a portfolio of additive manufacturing learning and development solutions to support manufacturers that want to increase additive manufacturing operations at their companies/organizations and schools looking to prepare their students for careers in manufacturing.
America Makes’ work with stakeholders from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, allows them to supply educational institutions and companies with training and development programs that creates an adaptive, leading workforce.”
Who are these certifications targeted toward/who would benefit from obtaining these certifications?
Can you tell us more about how the process for certification developed in this exam-based structure?
“The AMLI-developed body of knowledge provides the foundation for the first and only nationally normalized, stackable or sequential, credential process in additive manufacturing. The new Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification is ideal for individuals seeking to advance their career, as well as community colleges and companies that want to grow a well-trained workforce with an understanding of additive technologies. This assessment will serve as a pre-requisite for the next phase, the Additive Manufacturing Technician Certification, which will be rolled out later this year.
These stackable certifications can lead to an additive manufacturing apprenticeship such as those Tooling U-SME support through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program.
The certification program is designed to support those who want to enter the manufacturing industry, or for those already employed as additive manufacturing technicians who want to advance their career.
High School CTE programs, community colleges, workforce boards, and companies can all benefit from the assessment of the individuals going through their training programs. For the student population, this certification provides an industry credential that can differentiate them in the workforce.”
“It started with the AMLI (Additive Manufacturing Leadership Initiative) – a collaboration between Tooling U-SME, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM), the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), and America Makes – to identify a comprehensive body of knowledge for additive manufacturing. AMLI surveyed more than 500 professionals who work in the additive manufacturing sector to develop a comprehensive Additive Manufacturing Body of Knowledge (BOK) – which serves as the foundation for the certification program. From there, more studies were performed to understand the requirements at a fundamental (knowledge) versus a technician level (knowledge and skills) so a progressive program could be developed and so we could provide educators with skills guidance as they continue to develop and refine their additive manufacturing training programs.
Tooling U-SME’s certification team facilitated volunteers working in the additive manufacturing sector to support the development of the exams through extensive writing, evaluation process, and piloting the assessment.”
What is your hope for these certifications’ place in the industry?
“We hope the educational institutions will utilize these programs as an end-of-program evaluation for their students, so when they enter the industry, they will be validated with comprehensive additive knowledge and emerging skills.
We also anticipate that the manufacturing industry will begin requiring a level of certification for new additive manufacturing technicians, as part of their efforts to clearly define the needs of their future manufacturing workforce.”
“The Additive Manufacturing Technician Certification program was launched in May 2017. Since then, there has been a great amount of interest from both companies and educators. Specific to the education sector, we are working with and recruiting more high school and colleges to pilot the fundamentals level certification in their additive programs beginning this fall. There is also interest in the Technician Certification program, which will be available this fall for piloting as well.
These two certification programs are just the beginning. We see significant growth for these programs in the next few years, and will continue to the monitor how professions within additive manufacturing continue to grow and evolve to ensure these certifications remain relevant.”
What else should we know about the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals/Technician Certification?
“This is the first and only certification that focuses on the breadth of additive manufacturing. Successful candidates will have a broad understanding as well as ability to apply knowledge across a spectrum of materials and equipment. This program continues to demonstrate SME’s and Tooling U-SME’s commitment to advancing additive manufacturing technology and developing the current and future workforce.”
As education remains in focus with the growth of industrial additive manufacturing, we can expect to see additional coursework and, likely, certifications continue to arise. Validating skills and providing knowledge to those working with 3D printing technologies is an important way forward for the industry.
To learn more about the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification, see here; for additional detail on SME certifications via a detailed FAQ, see here. Discuss in the Tooling U-SME forum at 3DPB.com.[All Images: Tooling U-SME]