New training program prepares veterans, others to enter advanced manufacturing workforce
While 26-year-old wounded veteran Joseph Grabianowski has inspired Americans with his harrowing war story, someday he may be nationally known for building highly efficient exhaust systems for cars and trucks using 3D printing technology.
Grabianowski—pictured at left at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in front of a 3D printer holding a 3D-printed DOE seal and the plastic material from which it was made—is part of the Energy Department’s inaugural Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Internship. The pilot program is designed to provide accelerated, hands-on career training for veterans and next-generation engineers to prepare them to immediately enter the workforce of the growing advanced manufacturing industry.
Grabianowski stepped on an IED while deployed with his Army unit in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in May 2012. Damage from the blast required a rare, radical amputation of his lower body. He had long dreamed of being a U.S. Marshal but knew his path would now lead in a new direction. In a December 2013 interview with USA Today, Grabianowski said, “I still love my country…even though I can’t go be a marshal now, I can still go do something that would be a good service to my country.”
Barely two years later, his successful recovery is a testament to his personal will and determination. This self-proclaimed techie now envisions a career for himself in what he calls the “future of manufacturing,” which is additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Through this pioneering program offered by the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Pellissippi State Community College, and ORNL, Grabianowski is receiving the training needed to make his career goals a reality and prepare him to succeed in the additive manufacturing world.
“Where this industry is going to boom is right here in Oak Ridge,” Grabianowski said, “and the best engineers in the field are available through this program to teach me.”
The six-week program, which began in early July, includes a combination of classroom courses taught at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville and hands-on laboratory activities at the DOE Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. Participants learn to design for advanced manufacturing needs and are educated on 3D printers, fabrication techniques, and materials including titanium, carbon fiber, ABS plastics, and other composites.
“The science behind additive manufacturing is fascinating, but it really comes down to the feeling of how great it would be to help people,” Grabianowski said. ”I see a future in this industry, and I can serve my country by learning the technology and software to build 3D-printed exhaust systems for cars and trucks that will save Americans millions in fuel costs someday.”
According to Robert Ivester, deputy director in the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, this program is the first step in building a better system for providing veterans with timely training opportunities that will give them a competitive advantage when returning to the workforce.
“There is a skills gap in advanced manufacturing,” Ivester said. “Programs like this will provide trained workers quickly to meet our national priorities including the resurgence of manufacturing in the United States and effectively leveraging the existing skill base of transitioning service members. This program is only the first step, and we are actively seeking partners for a broader effort moving forward.”
This first program will end with a job fair at ORAU’s Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge on August 14 and a graduation ceremony held at Pellissippi State Community College on August 15.
“The response to the program was more than we had hoped,” said Dean Evasius, senior vice president of ORAU’s workforce development programs. “Within a few days of opening the program, we had applications from all over the United States.”
A diverse group was selected for the pilot program, including 15 Army, Navy, or Marine veterans, three active duty personnel, two reservists, three FIRST Robotics students, and two undergraduate engineering students.
“The job fair that ORAU is hosting will assist those participants who are ready to enter the advanced manufacturing workforce,” Evasius said.
The pilot program’s first participants are:
|Advanced Manufacturing Internship Participants|
|Name||City and State||Affiliation|
|Coltan Benziger||Westfield, New Jersey||Active Duty, U.S. Army|
|Ponnareay Chay||San Diego, California||Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University|
|Justin Daniels||Jamison, Pennsylvania||Recent Graduate, University of Pittsburgh|
|Scott DeVore||Knoxville, Tennessee||Reserve, U.S. Navy|
|Thanh Duong||Knoxville, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Pellissippi State Community College|
|Steven Fontaine||Henderson, Nevada||Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, University of Nevada-Las Vegas|
|Andrew Godwin||Powell, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Navy|
|Joseph Grabianowski||Rockville, Maryland||Veteran, U.S. Army|
|Michael Haines||Knoxville, Tennessee||Student, Farragut High School|
|Ryne Huff||Corryton, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, University of Tennessee|
|Clayton Leak||Richmond, Virginia||Reserve, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Virginia State University|
|Nicholas Leak*||Cookeville, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Tennessee Technological University|
|Gary Marlow||Raeford, North Carolina||Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Fayetteville Technical Community College|
|Dermot Medine Thomas||Fayetteville, North Carolina||Active Duty, U.S. Army|
|Raymond Powell||San Diego, California||Veteran, U.S. Marines, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University|
|Danny Ross||Oak Ridge, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Army|
|Matthew Sallas||Powell, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Navy|
|Stacy Sharp||Knoxville, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Navy|
|Kathleen McKenna Snyder*||Knoxville, Tennessee||Student, Halls High School|
|Peter Tong||Plant City, Florida||Veteran, U.S. Army|
|Lewis Valdez||San Diego, California||Veteran, U.S. Marines, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University|
|Derek Vaughan||Knoxville, Tennessee||Student, Homelife Academy High School|
|Eric Vidal||Maryville, Tennessee||Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, Pellissippi State Community College|
|Shane Watson||Cookeville, Tennessee||Undergraduate, Tennessee Technological University|
|Patrick Wentzel||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Active Duty, U.S. Army|
Here are profiles of two other participants:
Veteran Nicholas Leak, pictured at left with a 3D printer at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, has a long-standing interest in the field of engineering.
Leak began a mechanical engineering degree at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in 2005. After two years of studying, Leak joined the Army, where he was a striker mechanic and practically every job he did while on active duty was mechanical. Leak served until 2013, when he decided to go back to school in engineering.
He has been excited to expand his knowledge in this area by participating in the EERE Advanced Manufacturing Internship Program this year.
“This program has given me the opportunity to explore an area of science and engineering of which I had limited prior knowledge,” Leak said. “I have been fascinated by how quickly technology has evolved. I didn’t realize you could 3D print so many materials like composites and titanium.”
Because of this experience, Leak can envision himself in an advanced manufacturing career someday.
“This has all been very exciting because I would eventually like to create prosthetics after I finish my degree,” he said. “I will have a lot more in my toolbox after this.”
Halls High School Junior McKenna Snyder, pictured at left at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL with a 3D printer and various 3D-printed items, is the captain of her school’s robotics team and a next-generation engineer.
“I’ve been thinking about college and looking into engineering, international business and other scientific fields,” Snyder said.
She first became interested in the EERE Advanced Manufacturing Internship Program to grow her robotics knowledge and skills. Now that she’s involved in the program, she is finding it beneficial to explore the possibilities of higher education and a career path in this growing industry.
“Advanced manufacturing is a quickly growing field, and I like being on top of that,” she said. “This will look great on my resume.”
After her participation with this program, Snyder is hopeful about her future prospects in this area.
“If the actual work is anything like this internship,” she said, “additive manufacturing would be a great career for me.”