Leahy and Vermont Tech Announce a Nearly $8 Million Investment for Research

31 Aug 2020

Senator Patrick Leahy, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Vermont Technical College (Vermont Tech) President Patricia Moulton Monday announced a $7.969 million contract awarded to Vermont Tech from the U.S. Army’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) office as part of its National Imperative for Industrial Skills. The contract, which has an additional $4 million option, will establish the first advanced manufacturing education, research and development facility in Vermont.

Leahy said: “To retain and increase manufacturing jobs Vermonters need cutting edge training.  The VTC advanced manufacturing facility will ensure that more Vermonters have the training and skills to match the latest generation of manufacturing jobs.  By expanding and strengthening Vermont Tech’s position as a leader in this field, this collaborative public-private partnership will open new career opportunities to Vermonters and contribute to Vermont Tech’s bright future.  It was important to me that this facility be located on the school’s Randolph Center campus, ensuring that Vermont manufacturers around the state will have the ability to partner and benefit from this important skill training.”

President Moulton said: “Vermont Tech is uniquely positioned both geographically in the state and with existing employer partnerships to advance additive manufacturing for our economy. By preparing students to be the next-generation engineers and industrial designers with state-of-the-art equipment and practices, the college is further positioned as the premier college for engineering and manufacturing education in the region. We are profoundly grateful to Senator Leahy and the IBAS for their support of the college and our industry partners.”

The new center, located in Randolph Center will bring together students, faculty, and Vermont manufacturers to educate the next-generation workforce in cutting-edge additive manufacturing engineering and design and support manufacturing innovation.  After conversations with Vermont businesses and Vermont Tech, Leahy secured funding for the IBAS program in the Fiscal Year 2020 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.  The grant comes at a time when Vermont and the nation are experiencing a critical shortage of manufacturing capability and workforce, and while the state’s postsecondary attainment needs continue to grow.  The U.S. Army’s IBAS program is designed to strategically invest in the civilian manufacturing design, engineering, and production sector to ensure capability in the event of a national emergency.  The center will further tailor Vermont Tech’s educational programs to the real-world needs of Vermont manufacturers.

Under the leadership of President Moulton, Vermont Tech has worked to respond to the changing skill needs in manufacturing.  Using a grant from the Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment, Vermont Tech and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development launched the Vermont Manufacturing Collaborative (VT-MC), a partnership of manufacturers dedicated to supporting growth of design, prototyping, and production using additive manufacturing, a set of state-of-the-art techniques that allow products to be built to exacting specifications, in record time.  With the funding from IBAS, Vermont Tech will expand its advanced manufacturing engineering labs with critical new equipment and staff.  The grant will also allow the further expansion of VT-MC, which will use the new equipment and renovated facilities for prototyping, test-bed development, and small batch manufacturing.

Tim Holmes, Vice President for Engineering, GW Plastics said:  “We are very excited about this collaboration between local businesses and Vermont Tech.  It is a tremendous opportunity to participate in the development of a hands-on curriculum focused on additive manufacturing technologies that will become a pipeline for students transitioning into our future workforce. GW Plastics manufactures safety-critical products where lives are dependent upon the highest quality every day.  Furthering our knowledge of 3D technology and other innovations is critical to improving our manufacturing excellence.”

Bob Zider, VMEC Director and CEO, said:  “VMEC is very pleased to see Vermont Tech receive this important IBAS Prototype Project Contract as part of the National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative.  Managed by Vermont Tech, this new opportunity will significantly accelerate achievement of the core Mission of the Vermont Manufacturing Collaborative (VT-MC), ‘to advance technology-enabled manufacturing and associated workforce readiness through collaborative public-private partnerships and opportunities.’  VMEC is proud to be a founding partner of VT-MC, and we expect that VT-MC will have a large impact on Vermont’s manufacturing sector, on industry workforce readiness, and on our statewide economy.”

Chris Carrigan, Vice President, Vermont Chamber of Commerce, said:  “The Vermont Manufacturing Collaborative is great news for Vermont and economic development.  It will strengthen collaboration between industry and higher education, provide Vermont’s $3 billion dollar manufacturing sector with a skilled workforce for the 21st Century, and give Vermont’s manufacturers a strategic resource and advantage.  With ready access to research and development, state-of-the art technology and equipment, and support services our manufacturers will be able to tap new markets and business opportunities, and, in doing so, help grow Vermont’s economy.”

William Driscoll, Vice President, Associated Industries of Vermont, said:  “Vermont manufacturing’s greatest advantage has long been the quality of our workforce.  Additive manufacturing exemplifies how, as manufacturing continues to evolve, innovation and technology continue to open up new opportunities while also demanding new and improving skills.  This new facility will be a valuable asset for Vermont’s skilled workforce.”

From James St. Germain, Senior Director, Engineering, General Dynamic Ordinance and Tactical Systems, “General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS) is pleased that Vermont Technical College has been awarded the contract to begin an Additive Manufacturing Curriculum and obtain an Additive Manufacturing Machine. General Dynamics-OTS is actively designing Additive Manufactured parts in new products and is excited about working with Vermont Tech in this area. We are seeking additional training for our design teams and need a local supplier who we can work with to design and manufacture prototype parts. The collaborative relationship between Vermont Tech and General Dynamics-OTS will strengthen both organizations and lead to further opportunities to work together.”