U.S. Navy to open training center in Danville
IALR's Center for Manufacturing Advancement to house Navy project
The Navy on Wednesday launched an additive manufacturing “center of excellence” to train students in defense manufacturing at Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, as well as announcing a larger training facility to be built nearby.
The center of excellence is part of the 16-week Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) program that started as a multiyear pilot in 2021 in Danville, a partnership among the Department of Defense, IALR, Danville Community College, The Spectrum Group and Phillips Corp. that has trained three cohorts of students so far. Also announced Wednesday was the Navy’s plan to build a 100,000-square-foot regional ATDM training facility on the campus, where between 800 and 1,000 students will complete training annually by 2024.
Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, is a relatively new way to produce submarine parts more quickly. Training at the center of excellence will include sustainable and scalable manufacturing of parts for submarines, including some castings and forgings that are currently very fragile.
After graduation from ATDM, the students are expected to be ready for jobs within the defense industrial base, including Columbia-class submarines and shipbuilding and supply-chain businesses, all of which have encountered labor shortage challenges in recent years. In 2020, IALR and Danville Community College were awarded a $1.78 million contract from the Army to develop the prototype training program for ATDM’s pilot.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the Navy’s move to IALR’s new Center for Manufacturing Advancement on Wednesday at the second annual ATDM Summit, held this week at IALR. The Navy center is the first partnership at the $28.8 million, state-funded center, which opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning with Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
“Across the Department of Defense, we are adapting our training mission to equip our industrial workforce with the knowledge and the experience they need,” said Del Toro, former CEO of Northern Virginia defense contractor SBG Technology Solutions Inc. “Over the past year, this fast-track, intensive and targeted program has helped fill skill gaps across the key trades to keep us in the fight. These include advanced machining, quality control, welding and additive manufacturing. Graduates of this program will enter the workforce with the specific skills and nationally recognized certifications that we need now.”
“This partnership will diversify, transform and grow Southern Virginia’s production capability for the submarine industrial base as well, marking another major win for Virginia’s defense economy and labor market,” Youngkin said in a statement.
The center also includes an inspection lab, room for operations while businesses build factories off-site, and space for manufacturers, technology companies and engineering students to collaborate, according to IALR’s announcement.
“The center will help close critical supply chain gaps and accelerate defense manufacturing. It will enable partners to move and adapt at the speed of technology, and directly complements the ATDM program,” said Craig Crenshaw, Virginia’s secretary of veterans and defense affairs. “ATDM is a great opportunity for our veterans, who are supremely suited to the culture and competencies of defense manufacturing. They provide an immediate connection to the mission.”