A team of four students from the Clarksville campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Dickson recently earned their way into a top four spot in the Project MFG National Finals to be held this month.
(Pictured: TCAT – Dickson (Clarksville Campus) Project MFG Team Members: Will Bungard, Justin Hunter, Caitlin Cain, Kennedy Chapa-Lafon)
Backed by funding from the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program, Project MFG is an integrated workforce development and recruitment effort to expand the U.S. industrial base workforce.
TCAT Dickson (Clarksville Campus) will be competing against teams from Calhoun Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, and Danville Community College at the Project MFG National Finals. Due to COVID restrictions, all four finalist teams will compete in their home locations.
After nearly 150 skilled manufacturing workers competed in Manufacturing Challenge events in 10 states, these four schools earned their opportunity to showcase their problem-solving and technical aptitudes as welders, machinists, and programmers after advancing through the Project MFG regional round of competitions which were held in November and December under strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
The final four were selected based on rigorous judging of a complex advanced manufacturing project they produced. Judges of the competition included Project MFG team leads, industry partners and educational sponsors. Six teams, representing six different states, competed for the four spots in the National Finals after winning their representative Project MFG state competitions held in late 2019 and early 2020.
“Project MFG has brought Advanced Manufacturing to the forefront in the United States. Being able to utilize and hone the knowledge and techniques taught within the TCAT system, our team has shown we are fully capable of doing anything we put our minds to,” said team member Will Bungard.
“I’m really proud of the students that started this process during COVID,” said Kim McPherson, Machine Tool Technology instructor at TCAT Dickson’s Clarksville campus. “It’s been one hurdle after another, but we made it through regionals.”
According to McPherson, the college is equipped with a 3-axis CNC machine, the industry standard. However, the Project MFG Manufacturing Challenge involves the use of a 5-axis CNC machine, which is the most advanced type in the industry today. So, in addition to the challenges posed by COVID, the TCAT team is the only one in the national competition without the benefit of having a 5-axis CNC machine on campus. McPherson said that the nationals will be the third time that the team members have had an opportunity to use the 5-axis CNC machine.
“Going into this competition, we were at a disadvantage in the multi-axis world, but with persistence and a stellar instructor, Mrs. Kim McPherson, we have been able to shine and stay in the competition throughout,” Bungard said. “Having a venue such as Project MFG, we have had the chance to put our skills to the test in a real-world, multi-axis manufacturing environment that most students would not be able to perform in. And, we have had fun!”
The TCAT Dickson team will complete the first day of competition, the planning and programming, on the Clarksville campus March 21. Then the team will move to the Haas Factory Outlet in Franklin on March 22 to complete their project on the 5-axis CNC machine made available to them there. Results will be broadcast to a national audience in April in coordination with National Welding Month.
“I am very excited that our college can be a part of this opportunity,” said Dr. Arrita Summers, President of TCAT Dickson. “Our students have overcome many challenges and proven their ability to collaborate and solve real-world problems by successfully completing two rounds of competition to earn this chance to compete on the national level.”
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About Project MFGTM. Project MFG is a program of the Global Learning Accelerator Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, funded by the Department of Defense, and operated and managed by RD Solutions, LLC. The spirit and intent of the Global Learning Accelerator mission - helping people find the nexus between their passions and what the world needs.
For more information about Project MFG, or if you are interested in bringing a Project MFG Challenge to your community, please visit our website: www.projectmfg.com.
TCAT Dickson is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution and complies with non-discrimination laws: Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, and ADA. Located on Highway 46 in Dickson, the technical college has additional campuses in Clarksville and Franklin. For information about national and programmatic accreditations, contact the institution. Please visit www.tcatdickson.edu for more information.