LIFT to Expand Defense Technology Space, Skills Training

LIFT, a Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute based in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, plans to expand its operations into an additional location in Sterling Heights.
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Defense Corridor Center for Collaboration and Synergy
LIFT plans to expand its operations into an additional location at the Defense Corridor Center for Collaboration and Synergy in Sterling Heights, pictured. // Photo courtesy of the Defense Corridor Center for Collaboration and Synergy

LIFT, a Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute based in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, plans to expand its operations into an additional location in Sterling Heights.

Macomb County is the heart of the state’s defense corridor. The additional location, the Defense Corridor Center for Collaboration and Synergy (DC3S), will house LIFT’s Department of Defense technology and program management team. It is located at 7205 Sterling Ponds Court, near 14 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue.

LIFT plans to move in this spring and will complete minor renovations such as updated paint and flooring at the Defense Corridor Center. Square footage of the new space was not disclosed.

LIFT team members and partners will be closer to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, located at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren.

“Our team is expanding, and so is our work with the Department of Defense, specifically DEVCOM GVSC in Macomb County, and it is important for us to be in as close a proximity as possible to our customer as this work expands and develops,” says Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT.

In July 2020, LIFT signed an agreement with the U.S. Army to lead new technology programs to support U.S. soldiers. The agreement between LIFT and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center will see LIFT deliver new technologies to the Army over the next five years.

“Macomb County is the heart of the defense industry in Michigan, and we are proud to welcome this top manufacturing innovation institute to add to our already strong defense community,” says Mark A. Hackel, Macomb County Executive.

The new facility will house a high-bay area to showcase LIFT’s work on technology and talent development, specifically the work being done in support of the U.S. military.

In related news, Operation Next, developed by LIFT, is seeking workers and companies in metro Detroit for inclusion in the advanced manufacturing training program.

The hybrid training originally was only available to retuning military veterans and combines self-directed virtual learning with hands-on lab work to provide knowledge, skills, and credentials sought after in the labor market.

Currently, 100 slots are open for the free training program, and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan is looking for participants.

Operation Next is available to those seeking new skills and those looking to upskill, reskill, or certify their workforce. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is funding the program through a grant provided to LIFT. About 2.5 million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled in the next decade due to a lack of skilled and available talent.

Participants can select one of four majors: welding, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, industrial technology maintenance, and robotics.

Students will earn industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials from the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, or the Smart Automation Certification Alliance.

Trainees can complete Operation Next at their own pace, combining virtual learning and hands-on skill development on industry equipment at the LIFT facility in Corktown, at Macomb Community College. Or at Henry Ford College. For employers seeking to upskill their workers, hands-on training can also be completed at their own facility.

The program was initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program for military personnel in Fort Campbell, Ky. LIFT announced Operation Next’s expansion to nine new bases around the country in late 2019. The program expanded to provide civilian training in Detroit and Pittsburgh in July 2020.

“Since the program’s launch in late 2020, we have seen metro Detroiters from all walks of life register for Operation Next and learn new skills that are in extremely high-demand,” Michele Economou Ureste, executive director of the Workforce Intelligence Network. “WIN is encouraging those who may be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or who simply desire a new career path to explore the life-changing opportunities Operation Next has to offer.”

More information on Operation Next is available here.

The Workforce Intelligence Network is a collaborative effort between nine community colleges and six Michigan Works! Agencies in partnership with other organizations to create a workforce development system in southeast Michigan.

LIFT is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

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