LIFT, Amatrol roll out new advanced manufacturing curriculum for high schools

DETROIT—LIFT, the Detroit-based National Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and Amatrol, the Jefferson, Ind.-based industrial training company, have introduced a new learning system for advanced manufacturing.

Following successful pilots in three school districts in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, “Ignite: Mastering Manufacturing” will now be available for implementation by high schools across the nation.

Ignite is a 3-year curriculum built around real industry problems and challenges. It uses engaging, technology-infused course materials to inspire student interest and encourage participation in learning. Students completing the curriculum are equipped for success as the next generation of multi-skilled engineering technicians, technologists, or engineers. The program was designed in modules, so it can be rolled out as a one-, two-, or three-year program.

Three components form the Ignite curriculum, informing and building off each other to help students develop their skills in a holistic learning environment.

  1. Materials Science: A series of materials science modules are integrated into the foundational Ignite manufacturing activities and other courses, such as math and science.
  2. Advanced Manufacturing Systems and Processes: Representing the most significant portion of the Ignite curriculum in terms of student time and content, three courses are included: Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing Systems 1 and Advanced Manufacturing Systems 2.  Each course blends interactive multimedia learning with virtual simulations of manufacturing technologies to help students experience topics in an immersive, project-based environment.
  3. Capstone Projects: In the final year of the curriculum, students work in teams on a capstone project that uses industry-specific new and emerging technologies to solve real-world problems.

Each lesson in the Ignite curriculum also provides students the opportunity to learn and practice Common Employability Skills, a set of skills developed by the National Network of Business and Industry Associations which are foundational to professional success in any career. They include, for example, oral and written communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

“The range of employment needs in manufacturing presents broad economic opportunities for prospective workers seeking great jobs and careers,” said Emily DeRocco, senior advisor for talent development at LIFT. “The demand for multi-skilled technicians also means significant challenges for manufacturers who need workers with upscaled knowledge and skills. It is imperative, then, that the U.S. teach and train our next-generation manufacturing workforce differently. Ignite provides the new content and tools to accomplish this.”

Ignite was developed by a creative team of education and manufacturing experts from three National Manufacturing Innovation Institutes—LIFT, which focuses on materials; MxD, on digital manufacturing and cybersecurity; and America Makes, on additive manufacturing—and Amatrol, a market leader in manufacturing training.  They were joined by Ohio State University and the PAST Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research organization in Columbus, Ohio whose name stands for Partnering Anthropology with Science and Technology.

“Our security as a nation is tied directly to our advanced manufacturing economy, so it is incumbent upon us to fill the ‘missing middle’ and ensure the workforce of the future is growing, prepared and ready to work in this industry where technology is moving extremely rapidly,” said Nigel Francis, chief executive officer and executive director, LIFT. “LIFT, together with Amatrol, is proud to be driving the future of our national manufacturing talent education and development across the nation.”

Added Amatrol CEO Paul Perkins: “Ignite’s novel approach to education has the potential to attract a whole new generation to the world of advanced manufacturing.”

For more information, visit

LIFT, formerly Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute. It is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit



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