IMTS Insider

Up for a Challenge?

Category: Smartforce Jun 12, 2019

Launched in April 2019, Project MFG is a series of event-based, five-axis CNC and welding competitions for post-secondary student teams. The competitions are taking place throughout the United States leading up to a national invitational competition at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2020, September 14-19, 2020.

The challenge promotes the value of careers in manufacturing, awards schools cash prizes for their student teams, and provides scholarships to qualifying students. Many IMTS exhibitors are contributing equipment and staff resources to Project MFG.


“We're grateful to Adele Ratcliff, DOD Director – Manufacturing Technology, for announcing that IMTS 2020 will host the national event for Project MFG,” says Peter R. Eelman, AMT VP & CXO. (AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology owns and operates IMTS.) “Students across the country will experience the high-tech nature of manufacturing career pathways and are encouraged to attend IMTS 2020 for the national competition.”

“Project MFG is designed to promote a positive perception of career opportunities in manufacturing and at the same time, assist in elevating existing career and technical education programs. Competitors are required to have a high level of technology competencies in order to participate. Students will experience first-hand how their schoolwork relates to working in manufacturing,” says Greg Jones, AMT VP – Smartforce Development. “The competition shows a variety of career pathways available in advanced manufacturing.”


To compete in Project MFG, teams must complete the following:

  1. Design, program, and machine in full five-axis assignments
  2. Create a business plan
  3. Machine multiple parts in full three-axis to five-axis assignments (including a surprise part for each competition)
  4. Weld parts
  5. Ensure part quality to engineering drawings
  6. Produce the project cost-effectively relative to their time spent on each aspect of the competition process

The first competition was held near Auburn University with four teams from four different Alabama community colleges competing. The winning team walked away with a check for $5,000. Many of the team competitors also qualified for SME Education Foundation scholarships, and additional cash prizes were awarded to all participating teams.


In May, the next two Project MFG events took place at Meridian Community College in Meridian, Miss., and at the Haas Factory Outlet in Lafayette, La. The winning teams of each took home $5,000.

Project MFG Initiative
Project MFG is an initiative of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment (OSD IBAS) to accelerate new entrants into career pathways that are critical to the industry’s growing workforce needs and to elevate existing education programs. The initiative underscores that manufacturing advancements are important to our country’s national defense and economic health.


OSD IBAS worked in a public-private partnership with AMT and industry stakeholders, including NIMS, to develop a five-axis technical standard, the competition project, and part design. AMT brought together their members and IMTS exhibitors who devote attention to STEM and manufacturing technology education in the United States.

Project MFG Partners
Competition: OSD IBAS, NASA, Gene Haas Foundation, Haas Automation, Lincoln Electric Company

Technical standards: NIMS, Autodesk, Boeing, DMG MORI, Jergens, FANUC, Mastercam, Vincennes University, Sandvik Coromant

Technology companies providing hardware/software, equipment, tooling, materials, and application engineering: BIG KAISER, Blaser Swisslube, Haas Factory Outlet – a Division of Phillips, HFO Trident, Hoffmann Group, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, Jergens, Jorgensen Conveyors, Mastercam, TCI Precision Metals, ZEISS Industrial Metrology

For more details and to investigate having a school team near you participate in the competition, visit

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