ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - St. Cloud State University is one of two Minnesota institutions chosen to host a new machine tool workforce development center.

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The America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) program is aimed at revitalizing U.S. manufacturing by providing free online and in-person training for the machine tool industry.

Joannie Harmon is the Vice-President of Workforce at the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). She says the program targets a skill gap in the American workforce.

Machining and machine tools are at the foundation of America’s manufacturing capability and its global competitiveness. We have a critical workforce skills gap in this country when it comes to machine tool resources. The training component of ACE is intended to help our nation recover, advance, and sustain technical and manufacturing positions – all to enable a strong, resilient, and responsive U.S. industrial base.

SCSU will begin training teachers this fall and then use a 53-foot semi-trailer as a portable classroom, delivering hands-on training to different locations statewide.

Dr. Kurt Helgeson, an SCSU professor in the Department of Environmental and Technological Studies and ACE Program Director, says the new partnership is part of SCSU’s mission to meet the demands of the workforce.

We are building on our strengths here at SCSU as ACE will expand the training opportunities of our TEC (Technology, Engineering, and Careers) Network. The addition of making this program available through SCSU’s mobile platform allows us to take this much-needed training opportunity on the road as we reach teachers and students across Minnesota. The ACE initiative aligns with SCSU’s focus on providing innovative learning experiences to serve a need and meet the demands of our workforce.

Successful graduates of the program will be able to receive both continuing education and college credits.

ACE programs are divided into two parts. The first is an online program that covers an introduction to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining and 3-D modeling. Once complete, students are able to enroll in hands-on lab training.

The America’s Cutting Edge program says more than 5,500 people from all 50 states are involved in the online training, with nearly 700 students that have completed the hands-on “boot camp” program.

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