A team of students from Southwestern Illinois College are finalists in the Project MFGTM National Challenge this month, a skilled trades competition for a chance to win scholarships, prizes and title of national champion. The team will be featured in the upcoming pilot episode of “Clash of Trades” to celebrate National Welding Month in April.
The students competed in a two-day challenge March 24 and 25 at the SWIC Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, with a film crew on site to capture the event. The team, along with three other teams from across the country, advanced to the national competition after rigorous judging in complex advanced manufacturing skills. Teams work together in a challenge that mirrors the real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.
The SWIC team includes students Gavin Becherer of Troy, Connor Barnard of Godfrey and Connor Braasch of Troy.
The teams from Danville Community College, Calhoun Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Southwestern Illinois College were selected based on rigorous judging of a complex advanced manufacturing project and conclude the 2020 competition series that was delayed due to COVID-19.
Each team is comprised of current or recently graduated students who are learning a skilled trade. The teams work together in a challenge that mirrors real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.
The pilot episode of Clash of Trades will premiere on YouTube on April 20, 2021, at 7 pm CST, when the national champion will be revealed. The show will provide an engaging look at each team’s story and their approach to completing the challenge, judged by a panel of expert judges. The show 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 of the US manufacturing industry. Those who register to view Clash of Trades on April 20 can enter a chance to win a $2,500 scholarship.
The manufacturing industry is experiencing exponential change and new technologies are not eliminating jobs as some predicted. Studies have found the reverse – more jobs are being created (2018 skills gap in manufacturing study). The skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades. The U.S. Department of Defense declared this deficit as one of the most vital challenges for the U.S. defense industrial base (US DOD Nov2020 release).
Project MFG shines a light on the need and opportunities for skilled trades by focusing on the development of new talent to provide a path forward for individuals and our country. Project MFG competitions throughout the United States promote the trades across industries and help advance the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals. As an integrated workforce development and recruitment effort, Project MFG collaborates across communities, the private sector and government to expand the US industrial base workforce.
Project MFG is a program of the Global Learning Accelerator Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, funded by the Department of Defense, and operated and managed by RD Solutions, LLC. The mission of the Global Learning Accelerator is helping people find the nexus between their passions and what the world needs.
For more information about the SWIC Technical Education program, visit
swic.edu/tech-edu. For more information about Project MFG and the Clash of Trades premiere on April 20, visit: www.projectmfg.com.
PHOTOS: Gavin Becherer, top, and Connor Braasch, below.