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ACE Hands-On Bootcamp Goes Beyond Fundamentals of CNC Machining

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI—The Composites Institute, is committed to accelerating the development and adoption of innovative manufacturing technologies for low-cost, energy-efficient advanced composites. Our collaborative work through public-private partnerships drives domestic production capacity, strengthens U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and elevates job creation across the U.S. composite industry.

Say hello to Stian Romberg, a former wide receiver at Brown University, currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). Stian is studying large-scale thermoset additive manufacturing and has had a lot of experience with CNC controls, but has never had the opportunity to run a CNC Machining system.

He read about the ACE program in a mass email sent out by the UT Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Department and was prompted to sign up for the ACE CNC Machining Training online course.

“I was very excited to see that Dr. Tony Schmitz would be overseeing the training. I took his advanced manufacturing class last year, so I knew this training program would be great.”

After completing the online program, Stian felt he acquired a thorough introduction to the steps required to machine parts, but decided to sign up for the week-long, in-person CNC machining bootcamp May 24-28 to gain hands-on experience.

“For many applications, additive manufacturing must be paired with machining to achieve required tolerances, surface finishes, etc.,” he said. “To achieve a well-rounded understanding of what can be achieved with additive manufacturing, I felt like I needed an introduction to machining.”

On May 24, Stian joined the first group of participants enrolled this summer in ACE’s in-person next-generation machine tool workforce training developed by IACMI and UT Mechanical Engineering Professor Schmitz.

Before even completing the full bootcamp, Stian said he was impressed by the efficiency of the course, adding that he learned an incredible amount even though he invested just one week of his time.

“Machining has a language all its own. Although I’m sure there is a lot more for me to learn, I feel much more confident in my machining vocabulary, which will make it easier for me to communicate with machining experts.” As a bonus, Stian added, “Two certified machinists were part of my cohort this week, and they shared some awesome experiences that showed me the importance of understanding the fundamentals of machining.”


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.



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