Bootcamps are Filling up Fast

May 6, 2022 — The 2022 bootcamps for America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) have already begun and are filling up fast! To be eligible for a spot this summer, register here and complete ACE online, a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining training program.

In March, four high school students were thrilled to spend their spring break learning CNC machining skills at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn. Within hours, they were already examining a metal part for an oscillating piston air engine that they’d machined themselves. 

“Holding something I made is really satisfactory,” shares 16-year-old Hannah, who attends Career Magnet Academy in Strawberry Plains. “It feels great! I mean, I DID THAT!” she says beaming with pride. Hannah is used to being one of the few females in a machine class, but she’s not intimidated by that. She has some experience with additive manufacturing, 3D printing, and is already seeing the differences in subtractive manufacturing. “I’ve learned that the design process for both additive and subtractive manufacturing is pretty similar, but the operations for how they’re made is completely different. It takes a lot more operator involvement with CNC subtractive work.”

Joshua, a senior from Halls High School, is already working at Fab Metal, a full-service metal fabrication shop that specializes in prototyping, fabrication, machining, and finishing. He’d been encouraged by his employer as a challenge and to broaden his responsibilities. Melissa Joyner, Office Manager for Fab Metal, shares, “We’re looking to hire 20 new employees. We’ve been more of a fabrication shop. We’d like to become more of a machine shop. We’re hoping to fill an entire room with CNC machines.” As to the value of ACE training to their shop, Joyner adds, “We want kids to know this can be a good career where they can support a family and build a life. We’re ramping up, and there’s room to advance.”

Two juniors from Oak Ridge High School, Viggo and Nicklas, are also excited to be at the ACE bootcamp. They’ve been taking an Advanced STEM dual enrollment class where they designed in CAD and then cut in CNC a large banner for a school dance. Their teacher, Dr. Mark Buckner, recommended they take this free class to prepare them for an upgrade of machines being installed at the high school within the next few months. Nicklas says, “We’re getting a new shop of machines at Oak Ridge and learning this means we won’t be learning it new when we go back.” Both boys have big smiles, realizing these skills would make them mentors for the other students.

In order to participate in this one-week, in-person bootcamp, students had to complete a six-hour online course. They are among more than 2,300 around the country who’ve signed up for this free training, aimed to start bridging the skills gap in domestic manufacturing that has widened the past few decades. Another goal of ACE is to broaden the knowledge for career opportunities in manufacturing that many young people simply don’t know exist. Viggo is considering mechanical or chemical engineering, Nicklas is thinking computer science, and Hannah is interested in tool engineering and design. Regardless of their future career path, this training gives them tangible skills to pursue what’s possible.

Summer 2022 Knoxville ACE Bootcamps

May 23-27 PSSC

June 6-10 UTK–FULL

June 13-17 PSSC

June 20-24 UTK–FULL

July 11-15 PSSC

July 25-29 UTK (focused on composites)