Austin Polytech (austinpolytech.org) is a college and career prep high school on Chicago's West Side. APA's mission is to educate the next generation of leaders in all aspects of manufacturing, from skilled production and engineering to management and company ownership. This innovative program has been featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and PBS NewsHour.
In 2010, Austin Polytech unveiled a state of the art Manufacturing Technology Center, which features the same computerized, high-tech equipment used by modern manufacturers today. Just this year, 23 APA students earned nationally-recognized machining certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
As part of the career program, Austin Polytech works with over 65 local manufacturing companies to provide students with manufacturing facility tours, job shadowing opportunities, and paid internships and summer jobs. Students can even start and run their own businesses in school, like the APA Café, which was featured on CNN.
Opening in 2011, the AMTC (austinpolytech.org/amtc) is a machinist training center located in Austin Polytechnical Academy's Manufacturing Technology Center. Adult classes will be held during evenings, weekends, and summers. Trainees will learn to operate Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, and earn the CNC Operator and CNC Setup, Program, and Operator certificates from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
In partnership with the Cleveland-based Great Lakes Wind Network, the Renaissance Council is working to establish the Chicago Green Manufacturing Network, a new initiative to position Chicago as a base for the global supply chain for wind turbine manufacturing. The program aims to connect wind energy OEMs -- companies from around the world that design and assemble turbines -- to local manufacturing companies that can produce highly specialized, technologically complex turbine parts that are in short supply. Watch CMRC executive director Dan Swinney discuss supply chains with Crain's Chicago Business:
The Renaissance Council is working with the City Colleges of Chicago to upgrade their manufacturing programs and bring them in line with international best practices. The initiative includes accreditation of CCC programs by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), a nationally-recognized skill standards certification program that provides access to high-wage jobs in manufacturing. Building strong manufacturing programs in community colleges is an essential step toward developing a world-class workforce development system that can provide skilled employees to fill the more than 10,000 job openings in Chicago’s manufacturing sector each year.
In 2005, under the leadership of Commissioner David Hanson, the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (now the Department of Community Development) leveraged $1 million in funding to create ManufacturingWorks, a demand-driven program that specializes in meeting the workforce needs of high-performance manufacturers. ManufacturingWorks also provides “lean” training to help manufacturers cut costs and increase performance. To date, ManufacturingWorks has relationships with more than 270 companies; has made more than 1,000 job placements; has provided 68 companies with “lean” training; and has trained more than 1,000 workers.
The CMRC has proposed the creation of the Austin Renewable Energy Innovation Park, which would focus on commercial-scale wind and other renewable energy sectors, such as solar and geothermal. The Innovation Park will be based on a “cluster” research and development (R&D) center model. “Cluster” R&D centers are rooted in a local region, tied to a specific industry, and guided by a vision for local development while pursuing technological leadership and promoting innovation to strengthen local businesses. The Park will provide an anchor for a renewable energy cluster that would attract new business and investment, helping to build a green economy in Chicago from top to bottom. For more information, see our slideshow and project summary.