Detroit Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow Institute Opens

The Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) Institute in the Corktown area of Detroit will help train workers, including IAM members, how to operate new machinery used to make lightweight materials.

The IAM is a partner in a recently announced $148 million Department of Defense grant to open an advanced manufacturing institute in the Detroit area to develop methods, refine processes and train workers in lightweight and modern metals manufacturing.

The 85,000 square-foot Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) Institute will be based in the Corktown area of Detroit. It is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the five-state region the grant covers over the next five years.

“The IAM has a proud history of aggressively pursuing training opportunities for our members,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We only become a stronger union when we are better trained and more skilled.”

The Institute will provide IAM members the opportunity to learn how to work with lightweight materials for employers in the automobile, aerospace, light and heavy ground vehicles, small boat and large ship, rail, and defense manufacturing industries. Lightweight manufacturing is not only cheaper, but is being used to make cars up to 40 percent lighter and armored vehicles that can withstand a roadside bomb but also be airlifted by a helicopter.

Over 2.5 million people are already employed in lightweighting-related jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and the industry is growing quickly. The region had nearly 270,000 online postings for lightweighting-related jobs in 2014, compared with only 100,000 related graduates, according to the Workforce Intelligence Network.

The execution of the grant and training is being facilitated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), a consortium of more than 70 companies, universities, non-profits and workforce groups, including the IAM.

“This opportunity will allow our members to be a part of emerging technology development before it’s even on the shop floor,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Jim Reid, a national member of the ALMMII Workforce and Education Working Group. “We’re excited to help lead the way in keeping American manufacturing on top.”

U.S. manufacturers have added 622,000 jobs since early 2010 and production is growing at its fastest pace in over a decade.