Manufacturing Institute
Tapping in VR to Train Military Community for Manufacturing Careers

Tapping Into VR to Train Military Community for Manufacturing Careers

Aug. 31, 2021
The technology can be used with training modules in precision measurement, plant safety, and more helping veterans earn Certified Production Technician certification through MSSC and OSHA 10.

As manufacturing companies continue to seek out military veterans to bring into the field, a new initiative has been created to use virtual reality (VR) to both train and reskill this talent.

Earlier this month The Manufacturing Institute (MI),  which is part of NAM,  joined with immersive learning startup TRANSFR to provide the technology.  

The training will be part of the MI’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, which provides members of the military community with the skills and certifications needed to pursue manufacturing careers.  Since January 2021, Heroes MAKE America participants at the Fort Riley, Kansas, location have been supplementing their hands-on lab training with TRANSFR’s manufacturing simulations. The program will expand to a larger scale VR pilot with a fully remote training offering, including VR simulations, to support transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses at no cost regardless of physical location.

 The remote-learning VR training is in partnership with Texas State Technical College. The remote Heroes MAKE America pilot cohort will access hands-on, simulation-based training to prepare for in-demand roles in the manufacturing industry through training modules in precision measurement, plant safety, blueprint reading and construction safety, earning their Certified Production Technician certification through MSSC and OSHA 10.

 “This work is about helping service members and soon-to-be veterans see how those skills can apply to the world of manufacturing work before they even start their transition,” said TRANSFR Founder and CEO Bharani Rajakumar. “We’re proud to play our part in supporting our men and women in uniform—and their families—in assisting with their transition from uniformed service to civilian careers in high-demand industries.”

Currently, fifty people are using this technology but those numbers will grow according to MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “Our hope is that the program expansion into remote learning using the virtual reality technology provided by TRANSFR will allow us to serve an additional 150-200 students a year.  The most important component is that we see successful completion and mastery of the skills and great careers in the industry,” Chase told IndustryWeek. 

And those students will feed into the success that Heroes has had since 2018. There are more than 550 participants, with a placement rate of close to 90% at more than 200 companies in 39 states. The program operates in-person training at Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Heroes MAKE America has participants that have done everything from helicopter maintenance to drone operation. 

 “One reason for the success is that while the equipment used in manufacturing is different from the equipment they used in the military, our service members often are technically skilled with a strong aptitude for learning,” says Chase. “They possess a number of skills that are in high demand in manufacturing - work ethic, discipline, leadership, adaptability in addition to exposure to cutting edge technology."

 And these skills can create careers not just fill jobs. “ Our goal for Heroes MAKE America participants is that the certification and career-readiness we provide prepares them for more than just a job, they are prepared for their next mission of a career in manufacturing,” Chase says.  Through MI the program participants are introduced directly to manufacturers looking for this talent through career-readiness training, in-person and virtual tours, as well as the Heroes Connect platform. 

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