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News |  14 Apr 2021 15:20 |  By RnMTeam

National skilled trade challenge premiering in New Pilot: Clash of Trades

MUMBAI: There is forward momentum in the IBAS-sponsored Project MFG skilled trades competition series that launched in Fall 2019. Despite delays from COVID-19 restrictions, the debut season of student competitions completed with the finals of Project MFG’s National Challenge in March. What’s more, general audiences can watch the National Challenge and find out what team won in a new pilot, Clash of Trades. The show premieres on Project MFG’s YouTube channel at 7pm CDT on April 20, 2021. April was selected for the premiere of the new pilot to help celebrate April’s National Welding Month.

IBAS Director, Adele Ratcliff, will congratulate all participants and recognize winning student teams separately following the pilot’s premiere. Congratulations to the four team finalists from Danville Community College in Danville, VA; Calhoun Community College in Decatur, AL; Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Dickson, TN; and Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City, Illinois. These four schools represent the best and brightest next generation of welders, machinists, and programmers. Each team earned the opportunity to showcase their problem-solving and technical aptitudes at Project MFG’s National Challenge after advancing through the regional round of competitions conducted in November and December under strict COVID-19 safety protocols. Teams are comprised of current or recently graduated students who are learning a skilled trade. Team members are put to the test collaborating in a challenge that mirrors the real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.

The Department of Defense IBAS Program sponsors Project MFG as a part of a larger initiative to address a critical shortage of skilled workers as American companies anticipate a shortfall of up to 2.4 million skilled workers over the next 10 years as their aging workforce retires. Project MFG competitions work to reverse this trend in two key ways. First, Project MFG designs rigorous competitions that challenge student teams in complex advanced manufacturing projects. The winning team is selected based on rigorous judging of the final product produced. Judges for the National Challenge include Zeiss and Lincoln Electric with help from an expert panel of three judges who bring eclectic experience along with trade expertise.

Second, high-stakes Project MFG competitions, like the National Challenge in March, are filmed to create the reality competition show, Clash of Trades, that young people want to watch and students in the trades want to be cast. The pilot episode is hosted by Stephanie Quayle, Big Sky Music Group recording artist, CMT "Next Women of Country" inductee and entrepreneur.

The show will provide an engaging look at each team and intends to change the perception of the skilled trades by highlighting the stories of individuals entering the field and the high-tech, future-focused work being done in the U.S. manufacturing industry. Thank you to Adele Ratcliff, IBAS, and Project MFG’s competition and educational partners for their significant contributions to defense industrial base workforce development needs in support of the IBAS Program’s National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative.