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Mastercam Sponsors Project MFG’s “Clash of the Trades” Competition

As response to the U.S. skilled-labor shortage, specifically in manufacturing, Project MFG, Kansas City, MO, collaborates with communities, educators, and industry leaders to evaluate the nation’s next generation of highly skilled trade professionals.

The organization’s goal is to improve lives and America’s future by promoting the prestige of manufacturing careers, increasing the manufacturing trade workforce training and education pipeline, and boosting the manufacturing industrial base. The main idea is that, by giving students the skills to succeed, tech school enrollment will increase, which will lead to more qualified job candidates.

One national event that demonstrates Project MFG’s exciting approach to replenishing the skilled-labor pool is its Advanced Manufacturing Competition, which is featured on the reality series “Clash of Trades” on the Project MFG YouTube channel. Launched in 2019, the skilled trades competitions are supported by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program (IBAS).

After making it through qualifying and regional rounds, four interdisciplinary teams compete in a multi-day challenge to create a product to the required specifications. True to the program’s motto of “Elevating the next generation of skilled trades,” the goal of the show and its on-trend format appeal to students and instructors alike.

This year, the team from Minnesota State College Southeast (MSCS) won the 2023 Project MFG National Advanced Manufacturing Championship, held in Greenville, SC. The four-student, Winona-based MSCS team earned $100,000 in prize money, split between the team and the school.

During the nationwide competition, teams compete at qualifying and regional levels for a chance to be one of the final four in the championship round, which is aired on the “Clash of the Trades” show. The teams demonstrated machining, programming, welding, and metrology skills plus teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and cost-tracking abilities. In addition to the Minnesota State College Southeast team, the final four included Calhoun Community College (Tanner, AL), Southwestern Illinois College (Granite City, IL), and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Lancaster, PA).

“We had very talented teams compete this year,” said Lauren Davidson, Project MFG communications manager. “It was just wonderful to see all the teams showcase their skills and talents and rise to the challenge. Congratulations to the Minnesota State College Southeast students—a team that never competed before—who went into the qualifying round without 5-axis experience, made it to regionals and nationals, then ultimately won.”  

Project MFG’s mission to spotlight the need and effect of manufacturing is a critical yet attainable goal. To achieve it, the organization relies on support from the manufacturing industry through guidance and sponsorships.

“These partnerships make it possible for us to do what we do,” said Davidson.

The industry partners provide insight on the needs of the manufacturing sector; these insights help create competitions around those needs. Also, they help Project MFG to reach schools and provide expertise along the way.

“Mastercam in particular has been a great partner and has been here since the beginning,” said Davidson. “Mastercam experts not only offer assistance during the competition, but they also help us during the planning portion as well.”

Mastercam CAD/CAM software has been great to work with, she added, noting that the majority of the “Clash of the Trades” teams used the software during the Championship competition. Since its inception, Mastercam has been a proud supporter of Project MFG. As an official sponsor, Mastercam provides software, post processors, and on-site support for competitors of the Advanced Manufacturing Competition Series.

“Project MFG provides real-world scenarios for students and challenges the status quo by pushing competitors to implement advanced technologies like 5-axis machining,” said Clint Smith, Mastercam Senior Education Market Specialist. “Our organizations share similar sentiments in that we are working to solve manufacturing challenges and shape the future of manufacturing.”

“We are currently recruiting for the next season,” added Davidson of the Advanced Manufacturing Competition. “If you’re on the fence about whether or not to participate, I offer this: you never know what can happen or what your students could learn. Just look at the MSC Southeast team this year. They had never competed before, and they made it all the way.”

Thanks to the generosity of Project MFG sponsors, there is no cost to participate in the competition. For the qualifying round, each team receives a box that contains everything needed to compete: the materials and playbook, all at no cost. For teams that make it to the regional and/or final rounds, Project MFG covers travel expenses, including hotel stays and airline tickets or fuel costs. During the competition, industry experts are available to assist students should questions arise.

“Our goal is to help support and elevate the next generation of skilled tradespeople,” said Davidson. We want to assist them along the way. If they want to get in the game and learn about what is needed in today’s advanced manufacturing industry, we’re here to help them.”

In addition to the interdisciplinary Advanced Manufacturing Competition, Project MFG offers machining, welding, additive manufacturing, and international competitions. For details, visit www.projectmfg.com.

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