Former Army Reservist is out to advance ACE and U.S. patriotism

Tyler Grimm is one of four PhD students from Clemson University’s SmartState Manufacturing Lab attending the fourth ACE CNC machining training bootcamp at Pellissippi State Community College this week. As an undergraduate at Penn State Behrend, Tyler began working with CNC machines and other machining equipment in the research lab and got to know Glenn Craig, an experienced tool and die machinist who mentored Tyler.

But, as Tyler explained, machining in academia is not as concerned with optimization since the job is likely only producing a single part with somewhat flexible deadlines. As he continued to graduate school he says, “I began looking much more scientifically into machining, thinking of how the tribal knowledge of industry can be translated into data that anyone can become familiar with.”

Tyler said one of the topics he was most excited about was the part of the ACE training that discusses “the stability lobe diagrams and stability analyses from MSC, which provide an improved method of finding machining stability without the required years of experience.”

Having served in the Army Reserves, Tyler says there was another big reason he wanted to support the ACE effort: patriotism. He explained, “I believe that the US cannot progress without building back its domestic manufacturing. I know that the ACE program is just in its infancy and is still trying to find its target audience and work out a few things. While I ended up learning a lot from the program, I initially wasn’t concerned whether or not I would learn anything, but if my participation could help the program advance further, it would be worth it to me to attend.”


America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) is a national initiative for machine tool technology development and advancement and workforce development. ACE is supported by the US Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program from the Office of Industrial Policy.

The machine tool research and development for ACE is based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), whose Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) is a global leader in developing and validating systems and processes that leverage digital frameworks for manufacturing innovation. According to Adele Ratcliff, IBAS program director, “ACE is intended to help the United States recover the technical and manufacturing leadership position and enable our ability to design and make the machine tools required to produce so many of the products that are used in modern society.”

The machine tool education and workforce development training for ACE is led by IACMI. The ACE CNC Machining Training program uses virtual training and machining simulation to teach essential manufacturing skills—all designed to help tackle the nation’s skills gap and recover its technical and manufacturing leadership position. Through ACE, IACMI has partnered with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), also in Knoxville, to pilot a new, no-cost CNC machining training opportunity. The training uses a modular, interactive, learn-at-your-own-pace course on modern CNC machining fundamentals. No prior machining experience is required.

More than 1,400 people from across the U.S. are engaged in the online training that began in December 2020. The six-hour online curriculum walks users through the steps necessary to set up for machining a component, up to the point of engaging with the machine. It introduces new technology advancements being developed at ORNL with partners like MSC Industry Supply to reduce expensive trial and error and increase productivity and efficiency of current machine tools.

Join ACE today.