The Power of One

ACE News

The Power of One

June 13, 2024 – It all started with one.

After America’s Cutting Edge launched in December 2020, the program got its start with its first online registrant.

That was the snowball that began an avalanche towards a milestone 10,000 strong.

Not long thereafter, in-person CNC machining training began in 2021. Several other online courses have been added. And almost three dozen partners from twelve states are now a part of the ACE network.

One by one, people have turned to ACE to get the training they need to explore a machining career or upskill to advance their career path.

“Knowing these machines better will help me with my designs and help me work more directly with machinists,” said Hunter Kelley, Beehive Industries engineer in a 2023 interview.

Jenifer Lawrie
10,000th ACE online registrant Jenifer Lawrie.

“The in-person training was the perfect way to give hands-on experience for even a novice like me,” said Neeki Meshkat, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, biomedical engineering student in a 2022 interview. “They weren’t just machining something in front of you but letting you do it yourself. That makes a huge difference in learning something.”

Now, America’s Cutting Edge is celebrating a landmark milestone: 10,000 people from all 50 states have registered for an ACE online course.

The 10,000th person to register, Jenifer Lawrie, a FIRST Robotics mentor and coach at Webb School of Knoxville, says the content will help her elevate her skillset and expand her students’ boundaries.

“As a high school science teacher and a FIRST Robotics competition coach, I push my students to develop new technical and machining skills,” she said.

“Registering for ACE courses online allows me to work through course content with my students, offering encouragement for them as they develop knowledge for career and college engineering, and as they go on to complete in-person training. This opportunity helps me to become a better mentor for my high school students, as I build my understanding of machining and mechanical design.”

For the past three and a half years, most registrants have picked the flagship CNC machining course; nearly 8,000 individuals have taken that step to improve their resume.

While many have gained the training they needed through the classic Fusion 360 pathway, some have elected the recently-debuted Mastercam pathway as their preferred training software.

Metrology has been a popular second choice, with over 1,200 people taking the two-hour course. Soon, it will have its own bootcamp after a handful of participants took part in the first in-person training in April.

“There is value to this content and how it links to industry needs,” said metrology bootcamp participant Andy Polnicki with Pellissippi State Community College.

Hundreds more have either elected to learn more about composites or cybersecurity.

For ACE curriculum developer Dr. Tony Schmitz, it’s a thrilling accomplishment to see so many lives touched in such a short time.

“During the pandemic, I sat at my kitchen counter for hours on end preparing a CNC machining curriculum that I hoped would be beneficial to the manufacturing community,” said Schmitz. “That content became the first offering of the ACE program. I could not have imagined the impact we’ve had so far and am grateful for those who have joined the online and in-person training. I look forward to the next 10,000 participants!”

The makeup of the first 10,000 – as well as the next 10,000 and beyond – is focused on every single person. It’s not just numbers – it’s lives being shaped.

ACE participant Mama Salla with trainer Jose Nazario
Mama Salla with ACE trainer Jose Nazario.

“Every participant matters, and ACE is for everyone,” said Joannie Harmon, IACMI vice president of workforce development. “Each person that goes through ACE training unlocks the potential to create massive change for their life while helping to increase domestic machining.”

Case in point: Mama Salla, an ACE alumna who had no prior experience before starting the program.

Yet, through her tenacity and drive to achieve, she landed an internship with MSC Industrial Supply Co. after ACE training.

The impact she made became national after working on a toolkit new ACE partners can take advantage of – a one-stop-shop for all the components needed for ACE bootcamps.

“The toolkit contains a variety of tools necessary for machining and assembling components to build the ACE air engine,” said Michael Gomez, principal research and development engineer for MSC. “Thanks to Mama’s efforts, the toolkit is a cost-effective option that will ensure machining and assembly of the air engine components during the ACE training program is more efficient.”

Stories like Salla’s, Lawrie’s, Meshkat’s and Kelley’s are what make America’s Cutting Edge what it is.

Each one of them has been transformed by the training they received – and each one transforms the world around them by their story.

Will you be the next one?

Get started by registering for an America’s Cutting Edge course now.

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