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December 18, 2023 | Tom Ballard

New program focused on casting and forging industry has Knoxville roots

It is a partnership between the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation and the Department of Defense's Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program.

The Knoxville-headquartered Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation® (IACMI), in partnership with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program, announced in Nashville last week a national workforce initiative to help meet essential U.S defense needs in the casting and forging industry.

The multi-year agreement between DoD and IACMI is already underway to develop curriculum for a series of stackable training opportunities in the metals industry that focus on the development of trades and engineering labor in the metals industry. The announcement came as the 2023 Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) kicked off in Music City.

“The materials in our weapons systems affect platform resilience, sustainability, and affordability,” said Dr. Matthew Draper, Technical Director of Metallurgy and Manufacturing, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment – Innovation Capability and Modernization Office. “Castings and forgings are critical to achieving and maintaining the capabilities we need; however, the supply chain for cast and forge components for the Defense Industrial Base has shrunk by 80 percent. In a time when we must now produce defense materials at tonnage levels not seen since the Cold War, we must rebuild a modern, technologically adept workforce capable of delivering with far fewer personnel.”

DoD has prioritized castings and forgings as one of four focus areas in which critical vulnerabilities pose the most pressing threat to national security. Between now and 2028, the defense industrial base will need at least 122,000 additional shipbuilders, engineers, and other key DoD support roles. Failure to meet the demand for metallurgical engineers and related trade professionals in the base metals industry creates vulnerability in U.S. national defense.

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