ASTRO America and National Institute for Aviation Research Introduce AM Workforce Development Center

Center will provide free training to key small and medium-sized suppliers in the Midwest region to broaden AM adoption

Workshop Participants Help Shape ASTRO’s Common AM Sourcing and Qualification Guide: How LSIs select AM suppliers & raise MRLs 

September 29, 2023. Wichita, Kans. – This week, the Applied Science & Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America) joined Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) for a two-day workshop, where a state of the art Additive Manufacturing (AM) Workforce Development Center was introduced. 

This center, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce Build Back Better Regional Challenge program, will provide training on all facets of AM, ensuring the Midwest region can develop its AM workforce to the fullest. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

Dozens of the region’s top technology and manufacturing minds attended the workshop to provide feedback and guidance on ASTRO’s draft Common AM Sourcing and Qualification Guide. This Guide intends to bridge experienced large companies to the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) interested in AM so that together, our nation can meet impending manufacturing demands.

“Small businesses drive the American economy and make up a great deal of the manufacturing industry,” said Jason Gorey, Executive Director of ASTRO America. “There is a real opportunity to make these key players more productive and resilient while lowering costs with AM. This can transform critical supply chains in areas like defense, commercial aviation, and space; strengthening U.S. technological leadership, the economy, and national security. It is a  real opportunity and it is very exciting.”

While traditional castings and forgings have served our nation for the past several hundred years, AM is the future. It has the potential to resolve critical supply chain issues and create a new generation for the U.S.-based technical workforce. 

There is also the unique ability for AM to reduce part count in assemblies, increasing reliability and lowering costs. To this end, ASTRO has been working with NIAR and major U.S. companies such as Boeing, GE, Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Siemens Energy to accelerate supply chains adoption of AM and help grow capabilities in the aerospace, defense, and energy sectors.

In February, NIAR awarded a contract to ASTRO America to identify key small and medium-sized AM suppliers in the Midwest that could benefit from free training at a future AM Workforce Development Center. This week’s workshop connected many of those suppliers with prime contractors, key government officials, and other stakeholders to discuss the role of small and medium-sized AM businesses in aerospace, defense, and energy sectors; AM qualification and sourcing strategies; the NIAR AM curriculum; and more.

“We’re excited to finally conduct this culminating event of our NIAR-funded project,” said Bill Tredway, Senior Manufacturing Fellow with ASTRO America and a co-Principal Investigator on the project.

“The Workshop at NIAR is a great opportunity for the small and medium-sized AM suppliers to share their aerospace qualification experiences with the OEM and government community, and to help shape the NIAR training curriculum to meet their needs,” added John Christensen, ASTRO Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and co-Principal Investigator.  

Keynote speakers at the workshop included Slade Gardner, President and Founder of Big Metal Additive; Sue Helper, Senior Advisor for Industrial Strategy, White House Office of Management and Budget; Michael Rambo, Senior Manager, Global Technology Strategy Research and Technology, Spirit AeroSystems, and Jason Gorey, Executive Director of ASTRO America. Other speakers represented key manufacturers, government agencies, suppliers, and more. See the full agenda here.

For more information on ASTRO’s work with NIAR, click here.

For more information on AM Forward, click here.


About ASTRO America
The Applied Science and Technology Research Organization of America (ASTRO America) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, non-partisan Research Institute and Think Tank. It was established in 2018 to advance the public interest through manufacturing technology and policy. Led by manufacturing professionals with broad public and private sector experience, ASTRO America supports collaborations by government agencies and companies to address supply chain challenges in highly regulated industries, including aerospace and defense. 

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About NIAR
Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research provides research, design, testing, certification and training to the aviation, defense, and manufacturing industries.  NIAR has a $240 million annual budget, 1,400 employees, two million square feet across Wichita and a satellite office in Huntsville, AL.  Areas of expertise include Additive/Advanced Manufacturing; Advanced Coatings; Aerodynamics; Ballistics/Crash Dynamics; Composites/Advanced Materials; Digital Twin; Environmental/EME; eXtended Reality; Flight Simulation; Full-Scale Structural Test; NDT; Sustainment; Reverse Engineering; Robotics/Automation and Virtual Engineering. 

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