HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Boeing has awarded $250,000 toward a new workforce development initiative in partnership with the Alabama Community College System and NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Innovation Institute. The fund will fuel the local adoption of NextFlex’s flagship workforce development program FlexFactor®, aimed at preparing the next generation of the advanced manufacturing workforce.
The partnership between NextFlex, Boeing, and participating local school districts and colleges will give Huntsville-Madison County area students the opportunity to see how advanced materials and products can combine to create innovative solutions to a diverse range of problems. The immersive multi-week experience helps participating students kickstart their advanced manufacturing career paths by familiarizing them with the technology and the vast range of professional opportunities in the field.
“Boeing has been an active member in maturing additive manufacturing approaches for FHE systems as part of our involvement with NextFlex, and we have led this development from the Huntsville research center,” said Robert Smith, Ph.D., a technical fellow with Boeing Research and Technology. “To achieve our goals, we need the ideas and energy that come from engaging with the workforce of tomorrow. Through the FlexFactor program and the support of the Alabama Community College System, along with J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College and Calhoun Community Colleges, Boeing and the rest of the North Alabama industrial community will benefit from the innovation and excitement that will come from students in this high-tech corridor.”
“The Alabama Community College System is committed to providing the education and training needed to ensure that all Alabamians have a path to a great career,” said Jeff Lynn, vice chancellor Workforce and Economic Development for the Alabama Community College System. “We are proud to partner with Boeing to bring the NextFlex FlexFactor project to high school students in the Huntsville-Madison County region. Through this public-private partnership, we will be able to inspire, recruit and prepare the future generation to fulfill the advanced technology career pathways our young people need to lead Alabama throughout the 21st century.”
Additionally, students will be engaged with participating local colleges and community colleges, including J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College and Calhoun Community College, to help them with the next steps after completing the FlexFactor program.
“FlexFactor allows students to grasp their potential to address and solve the biggest challenges of the future using the power of technology, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a range of soft skills like environmental scanning and deduction, contextual value creation and collaboration,” explained Brynt Parmeter, director of Workforce Development at NextFlex. “Students emerge from the program understanding that they are the ones who will come up with the solutions to the vast range of social, environmental and health problems our world faces.”
The Boeing-funded Huntsville-Madison County initiative is the second national expansion of the FlexFactor program that piloted in Northern California, following the spring 2018 expansion of the program to Lorain Community College in Elyria, Ohio. The Huntsville-Madison County expansion will build on the successes of the 2,000 students who have already gone through the program, highlighting the astounding capacity of this generation to grasp the power and potential of emerging technologies.
NextFlex®, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute, is a leading force in the Manufacturing USA network of Institutes. Formed through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and FlexTech Alliance, NextFlex is a consortium of companies, academic institutions, non-profits and state, local and federal governments with a shared goal of advancing U.S. manufacturing of FHE. Since its formation in 2015, NextFlex’s elite team of thought leaders, educators, problem solvers, and manufacturers have come together to collectively facilitate innovation, narrow the manufacturing workforce gap, and promote sustainable manufacturing ecosystems. For more information, visit www.nextflex.us and follow NextFlex on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.