IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing Program Prepares Students for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing
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With more automation and smart technology than ever before, manufacturing is a great industry with high wages, solid benefits and more job security than many other sectors. For those who love to work with their hands and don’t want to sit at a desk all day, it’s a perfect fit.

That’s why Amatrol and LIFT (a Manufacturing USA Institute) co-developed the IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing program. This groundbreaking initiative is poised to revolutionize technical education, providing students with cutting-edge technologies and a curriculum designed to expose them to manufacturing career pathways, while also honing essential soft skills and preparing them for a plethora of career options within the world of manufacturing.

Here’s everything you need to know about IGNITE and why it’s a great curriculum for your school.

The IGNITE program was developed by leading manufacturing experts

During his time in the White House, President Obama launched a national network of manufacturing innovation centers called Manufacturing USA Institutes. Each institute is a private-public partnership spearheaded by a state department, with members coming from industry and academia, in an effort to keep the U.S. manufacturing industry competitive globally. LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow) focuses primarily on advanced materials, manufacturing processes, systems engineering and talent development and is funded by the Department of Defense.

So who does LIFT partner with?

  1. Government: including several agencies, military branches and research labs
  2. Industry: including well-known manufacturers like Siemens, Boeing, Collins Aerospace, EWI, Hexagon, Kearney, GE, Lockheed Martin, Miller Electric, Raytheon Technologies, Comau, FANUC Robotics, Volkswagen and many others
  3. Academia: including research institutions like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, Purdue, Oakland University, Michigan Technological University, Georgia Tech, LSU, Wayne State University, Texas A&M, Penn State, University of Arizona, Notre Dame and many others

Co-developing the IGNITE program along with LIFT is Amatrol, the world’s leading developer of technical training systems and curriculum. Based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Amatrol has led the country in hands-on and manufacturing-relevant training systems for all areas of advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0.

Together, LIFT and Amatrol produced IGNITE as a turn-key solution for school districts to teach manufacturing.

IGNITE’s comprehensive curriculum is the perfect introduction to manufacturing

IGNITE is a multi-course foundational curriculum designed for high school students in grades 9-12. It encompasses industry-relevant themes, including Industry 4.0, AutoCAD design, and advanced materials and processes. The program seamlessly integrates career exploration and career preparation, aiming to inspire and excite students about careers in STEM and manufacturing.

The program is designed to expose students to the dynamic world of manufacturing technology, develop employability skills (often referred to as 21st-century skills), and offer opportunities to earn college credit and industry-recognized certifications.

The six core courses in IGNITE are:

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  1. Intro to Advanced Manufacturing: Covers foundational skills in robotics, automation, basic electrical safety, and additive manufacturing.
  2. Intro to Systems: Expands on sensor technology, automation, robotics, and electric relay control.
  3. Mechatronics Systems: Focuses on CNC programming, mechanical and fluid power systems, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
  4. Digital Manufacturing: Covers cloud-based data analytics, industry 4.0 data analysis, and more.
  5. Advanced Materials and Design: Explores various fabrication methods, such as injection molding, additive and subtractive manufacturing, welding, and their role in smart manufacturing.
  6. IoT, Data Analytics & Networking: Concentrates on smart sensors, devices, and building visual communication software for the Internet of Things.

IGNITE is tied to industry-recognized certifications

IGNITE does not just impart knowledge; it empowers students with industry-recognized certifications and credentials, enhancing their employability. The program is designed to align with several key certifications that students can earn:

These certifications not only validate students’ skills but also open doors to career opportunities, providing a competitive edge in the job market.

IGNITE uses a project-based learning approach to teach real-world skills

A unique aspect of the IGNITE program is its emphasis on project-based learning. Students spend a significant portion of their time working on hands-on projects, both in groups and individually. Project-based learning (PBL) is widely praised for its ability to teach the soft skills that make a student more valuable in the workplace – like collaboration, delegation of tasks, teamwork, communication, and meeting deadlines.

Amatrol Ignite MM Team ProjectsIGNITE’s PBL components come in three project types:

  1. Mini Projects: These challenges occur throughout the program and serve as a way to apply recently acquired skills in real-life scenarios. Mini projects include tasks like creating a baking company circuit system using electric relay control or developing a material handling system with robotics.
  2. Team Projects: These projects are more extensive and run throughout an entire semester. Students work in teams, with each team member focusing on specific skills. Team projects encompass challenges like creating automated can crushers or building smart factory data acquisition systems.
  3. Capstone Projects: These advanced projects are in collaboration with Ignite’s partners, including LIFT (lightweight materials and research), America Makes (additive manufacturing), and MXD (digital manufacturing). Capstone projects include tasks such as designing automated water solar systems, automated drone delivery systems, and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions for smart factory systems.

The project-based learning approach fosters teamwork, collaboration, and communication, skills highly sought after by employers in the manufacturing industry.

College and career-ready: help your students make the best decision for their future

IGNITE certainly isn’t the only manufacturing-focused curriculum available to STEM and CTE teachers out there. Often, programs are geared toward a certain set of students already set on a certain career track – like those on their way to an engineering degree or those who don’t want to pursue college at all. What makes IGNITE unique is that it’s designed to be useful for all these students, regardless of their future pathways.

The program accommodates three main categories of students:

  1. Direct Entry into the Workforce: Ignite provides the skills and certifications needed for students to enter the workforce immediately upon completing high school. Students can acquire valuable work experience through internships and co-op programs, giving them a competitive edge in job applications.
  2. Technical and Community College Pathways: Students planning to pursue further education can benefit from dual-credit opportunities. IGNITE prepares them for technical and community college programs, where they can earn additional college credits and continue building on their knowledge.
  3. Four-Year University Path: For students aiming for a four-year university education in engineering or STEM fields, IGNITE equips them with hands-on experience and a deep understanding of the technology and mechanical aptitudes behind their engineering designs.

IGNITE’s flexible structure allows students to follow their chosen path while acquiring the necessary skills for future success.

Educators are set up for success from the start

Districts who use the IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing program have the absolute best teacher support and training out there. Unlike many curriculum programs that require schools to spend thousands of dollars to get an instructor trained and certified, all IGNITE instructors will be trained and prepared by the experts at ATS Midwest and Amatrol at no cost to the district.

Training sessions cover a wide range of topics, from mastering the program’s technology to effective pedagogical strategies. Educators are provided with the tools and resources they need to create a dynamic learning environment for their students. Training sessions are conducted both in person and virtually to accommodate the diverse needs of educators across the country. Plus, ATS Midwest consistently offers professional development opportunities to help instructors stay updated and continuously improve their skills.

In addition to training, the program itself is a true turn-key package that includes everything a school needs to deliver learning.

The IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing program includes:

Is IGNITE the right fit for your district?

There’s no doubt that it’s a great program – but is it the right one for your district? Who should deliver the learning? Might it fit into existing course structures? Should you start with a few courses first, or the entire program? These are all great questions, and it’s why we at ATS Midwest exist: to help you determine what’s best for your district and your students.

If you want to know more about IGNITE, send us an email and we’ll be happy to help.