Mobile CNC training “Fab Lab” impresses state legislators in Lansing

A revolutionary technological solution to help with Michigan’s skills gap recognized at the State Capitol.

“Fab Lab” at Michigan’s State Capitol
“Fab Lab” at Michigan’s State Capitol

It is no secret there is a skills gap going on in Michigan. The State recently partnered up with Mike Rowe-celebrity TV host of “Dirty Jobs” and his foundation, mikeroweWorks, to produce videos that show students skilled trades are sustainable, good career paths. Rowe's videos, targeted to middle and high school students, will highlight industries like tool and die, health care, construction and welding.

Michigan State University Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) recognized the need and heard firsthand from local manufacturers about their needs and lack of skilled workers. The NLEA led the efforts to assemble a group of top business, educational, community and government leaders to develop a plan to bring a resource like a CNC Mobile Training Lab to Northern Michigan. This group became the Manufacturing Advisory Team and has been a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when a collaborative approach is taken to find a solution to a challenge. 

A group from the “Fab Lab” Manufacturing Advisory Team traveled to Lansing to participate in a special “Fab Lab” recognition event and demonstration at the State Capitol early June. The Fab Lab, North Central Michigan College’s mobile CNC Manufacturing Lab was on display, outside the Capitol, for legislators and the public to tour. The day’s events consisted of Senator Wayne Schmidt introducing the group on the Senate floor and also recognized the great value of the Fab Lab. Manufacturing Advisory Team member Tom Erhart of the NLEA provided an overview of the collaborative effort that lead to the success of the Fab Lab project.

Representatives from the following organizations or companies also participated on behalf of the Manufacturing Advisory Team: North Central Michigan College, Precision Edge, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, Michigan Works!, Triune Specialty Trailer, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Besides Senator Wayne Schmidt, area House Representative-Triston Cole participated in the festivities; along with several Senate and House legislative leaders. Legislators were impressed with the Fab Lab and how the team was able to achieve success in bringing this great resource to Northern Michigan through public-private collaboration. It is hoped that this Fab Lab will be a model for other mobile training labs throughout the state and legislators were very positive about the possibilities.

The Fab Lab is a state-of-the-art mobile training classroom that is used to train students for high-demand and high-tech machining careers as Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) programmers.

The Fab Lab is a unique solution that brings both awareness and education to Michigan students. “This innovative learning tool not only exposes students to manufacturing careers, it gives them hands-on experience in preparation for those jobs,” according to Tom Erhart. “We believe the Fab Lab will help re-shape the way students learn and give them a dynamic education that encourages job growth.”

“The Fab Lab is instrumental in filling a skills and employment gap, and Triune is honored to be a part of its success,” said Harry Kurtz, president of Triune Specialty Trailers, the Madison Hts., Michigan manufacturer of the Fab Lab. “Using mobile classrooms to facilitate STEM education and initiatives is an exciting prospect for the State of Michigan.”

For more information about the NLEA or the Fab Lab, call 231-582-6482 or visit the NLEA website

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