NACC Wins State Manufacturing Competition

NACC Wins State Manufacturing Competition

By Jackson Blaze Staff

AUBURN, Ala. — Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) students Amy Hamilton (welder), John Headrick (machinist), and Ryan Rogers (designer) recently earned first place in the Project Manufacturing (Project MFG) state competition, held in Auburn, AL.  

Project MFG is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program intended to promote the value of a career in manufacturing trades and accelerate new entrants into the workforce. The Next Generation Manufacturing Challenge Series showcases the necessary skills, problem-solving abilities, and technological aptitudes necessary for the success of new engineers, machinists, welders, programmers, mechanics, and fabricators. 

In the three-day competition, interdisciplinary teams are given specifications to build a project that includes Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), 5-axis CNC machining, and welding. The focus is on precision, quality, and working together as a team to build a product. NACC placed in the top four in the preliminary in-state regional competition, conducted by the Alabama Community College System in November. 

Dr. David Campbell, President of NACC, offered his congratulations to the team, “I am extremely proud of our students. Winning a competition of this caliber shows local industry and manufacturing companies the high-level skills of the workforce in our area. These students are excelling in their craft and have a bright future ahead.”

The Project MFG initiative is led by Adele Ratcliff, Director of Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense. At the competition, Ratcliff noted, “We are here because our country is not secure without a world-class dominating industrial base…” She also said that there are more ways to serve our country than being in the military. She continued, “manufacturing is a way to serve your family, serve your community, and serve our country. Because if you are not standing at that machine tool for the industry around here when we need you for national security, who are we going to turn to? You play a critical role in the security of our country and I hope you know that.”

Dr. Mike Kennamer, Dean of Workforce Development & Skills Training at NACC, expressed his appreciation for the instructors who took on this project, the students who competed, and the companies that employ the students. “I am very proud of this team and the leadership of the instructors who guided them in the process,” stated Kennamer. “I also want to thank GH Metal Solutions, PlayCore, and BlueScope Steel for allowing these students—their valued employees—the time off work to be part of our team. We value our partnerships with local industry and these students are prime products of these partnerships.” 

The team was coached by instructors Hugo DeAngelis (Machine Tool Technology), Kelly Black (Drafting & Design), and John Fowler (Welding). Each team was required to provide a judge for the state competition and Kelly Black was selected as the judge representing NACC, becoming the first female judge in the Project MFG competition. It was noted that welding student Amy Hamilton was the first female to win a state Project MFG college competition and the first female welder to compete in Project MFG at the state level. 

Kelly Black, Drafting and Design Program Coordinator noted that, “the intent and idea of responding to a call to action for the betterment of our country is a motivating preface for the contest. It really brings an elevated element of pride, purpose, and the encouragement to strive for excellence. The partnership of industry representatives, government officials, and education administrators was very impressive.” 

The NACC team is now eligible to advance to the regional competition where they will compete against teams from Louisiana and Mississippi to determine which state’s team will advance to the national competition, to be held at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in September.  

Information about career technical programs may be found at Contact Dr. Mike Kennamer for more information at 256-228-6001, ext. 2291.

For more information about Northeast Alabama Community College, visit the college’s web page at or download our free App in the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Follow NACC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.