Class Is In Session For The Inaugural Group Of Advanced Manufacturing Technician Students

Today marked the first day of class for the inaugural cohort of Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) students in the Northwest Louisiana FAME program. FAME is the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, a national program of the Manufacturing Institute, and currently has over thirty chapters across the country.

The NWLA FAME Chapter was created earlier this year by six founding manufacturers, including Benteler Steel/Tube, Frymaster, Maxim Watermakers, Music Mountain Water, Prolec GE, and Ternium USA. The training partner for the program is Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), and the backbone organization is the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP). The GeauxFAME Chapter in Natchitoches, LA, was the first to exist in the state.

The program aims to create a pipeline of global-best, skilled maintenance technicians. Over the last several decades, this skill set has grown in great demand by manufacturers across the country while the level of technology in manufacturing increased and technical education in high school declined. The COVID pandemic caused the most experienced technicians to retire early, while many skilled technicians continue to retire today. Although technical education is starting to come back in high schools, the need for skilled workers is critical. 

“The AMT program is our opportunity to plan for the future of our businesses and the AMT participants,” said Douglas Bridges, Facilities Manager at Prolec GE and NWLA FAME Chapter Chair. “There is a huge gap in the current generation of skilled labor that this program will help us close and give the participants the tools for a successful career.”

The model is a 24-hour work week combined with 16 hours of classroom education. This work-study schedule helps students better retain what they learn in the classroom by applying it practically in real-time. FAME chapter members employ, sponsor, and mentor the AMTs, ensuring they have their technical education reinforced when they are on the job. It is a two-year, five-semester program. Upon completion, students will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance and the Advanced Manufacturing Technician certification from FAME. The expectation is that they will go to work full-time for their sponsoring company.

This program is well-suited for recent high school graduates and those looking for a new, elite career as a highly-skilled worker needed by American manufacturers to compete globally.

“We decided to jump in and support the creation of the NWLA FAME chapter because our role as an economic development organization is to ensure our local companies have the resources needed to be successful,” said Justyn Dixon, NLEP President & CEO. “For years, we have heard from local manufacturers that finding skilled maintenance workers was a challenge for them, and COVID only made it worse. We are honored to be a part of this solution with our manufacturing partners and BPCC.”

Information about the FAME AMT program in Louisiana and an application to be considered for the 2023 AMT cohort can be found at https://fame-usa.com/fame-program-locations/louisiana-fame/. The selection process will begin in Spring 2023.

If you are an employer interested in becoming a chapter member, contact Angie White at awhite@nlep.org.