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Advanced Manufacturing


The Challenge

Our country is facing a near-crisis situation in workforce capability and capacity. The negative perceptions around trade careers in manufacturing — from job image to earning potential — have resulted in a rapid decline in US manufacturing workforce and productivity. This decline not only threatens our economic prosperity but poses a real threat to our national security.


The Industrial Base and Sustainment (IBAS) program, headed by the US Department of Defense, has defined and initiated a National Workforce Imperative to urgently and dramatically address this near-crisis situation. IBAS – working in partnership with prominent government, industry trade organizations, manufacturers, educational institutions, educators, and community leaders – is building and driving a movement to help solve this critical Workforce Gap. 


Project MFGTM is an organization dedicated to elevating the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals by changing mindsets, fostering community involvement and providing a pathway to teaching the critical skills needed to succeed in modern advanced manufacturing. Through a skills based competition series designed to inspire “moments that spark a movement” and restore America’s industrial base, Project MFG competitions demonstrate problem-solving abilities and technological aptitudes needed to build the next generation of skilled machinists, welders, programmers, mechanics, and fabricators. 


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Manufacturing within the modern workforce are interdependent, and employees must be cross-trained in multiple areas to meet evolving business needs. Traditional models of on-the-job training focus on single occupations, training in silos based on outdated interpretations of how workers learn and what companies need. In reality, the most sought-after and productive employees are those that are skilled communicators, able to work in teams with other specialists to achieve the highest level of productivity in the least amount of time. The ability to operate within a multi-disciplinary team to achieve a common goal has significant value to manufacturing employers regardless of company size or industry sector. 

Project MFG Competitions are based on the design, manufacturing, assembly, and testing of a “product” by teams of multi-disciplinary specialists. It is a tournament-style event in which teams of students and skilled manufacturing workers compete against one another to complete a trade project. The projects are developed by groups of industry, corporate, and nonprofit partners to challenge competitors and showcase world-class skills. The competition events take place at venues across the US. Each competition project is judged by a group of team leaders and industry subject matter experts.



Competitors must be enrolled in a school and/or trade training program in one of the following areas:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Precision Machining
  • CNC Programing (CAD/CAM)
  • Welding
  • Measurement science (CMM)
  • Fabrication
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Industry/Digital 4.0

Competitors must be a currently enrolled student at one of the following institutions:

  • High school
  • Community college, Trade school, or similar Career Technical Education program
  • Some 4-year universities or Apprenticeship programs will qualify as well.

Individuals that are currently employed by a manufacturing-related company and are enrolled in a school/program as noted are eligible.

Individuals that graduate from a school/program during the competition season are eligible for entire competition season.
For example, Advanced Manufacturing competitions begins in October, student graduates in December, Advanced Manufacturing concludes in following May, student is eligible for entire competition.

Students that graduate within six months of an upcoming competition AND are not currently employed by a manufacturing-related company are eligible.

Students on a competing team do not need to be from the same school and/or training program.

Students may compete on only one team for a given competition series.

An institution may only sponsor one team per competition series.

An instructor/sponsor may only sponsor 1 team per competition series.

For Individual competitions, there may be a limit on the number of competitors per institution/instructor.


A graduate or a student currently employed as an instructor/teacher/teaching assistant/adjunct instructor of a trade school/program.

An individual only enrolled in a course of study not related to the Project MFG competition training programs listed under the eligibility section does not meet the student eligibility requirement.


Competitors must adhere to the safety requirements of their respective school or location. A list of the minimum safety requirements is provided below. Should any safety questions arise or issues encountered, stop work and seek further guidance from your instructor, site supervisor, or competition coordinator.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Appropriate shop attire and PPE must be worn by all competition participants, as well as, anyone on the shop floor. This includes closed-toe shoes and long pants. 
  • Wrist, hand jewelry, and any loose neck jewelry or loose clothing are not allowed. 
  • Long hair must be adequately restrained around rotating machinery.
  • Safety glasses must be worn at all times. 
  • Protective footwear must be worn at all times and must meet the host site safety requirements. 
  • Hearing protection and a face shield must be worn when using offhand grinding machines or angle grinders.
  • Protective clothing, safety glasses, and protective footwear must be worn at all times in the competition area or any area where machine tools are present. 
  • Any person not properly equipped with PPE may not enter the competition area. They must move to designated public areas and are not permitted to enter the competition area.

Working Areas:

  • All offhand grinding must be done in the welding bays with the shields closed.
  • Welding gloves and a welding helmet must be worn when welding in the welding bay.
  • When welding, the welding bay must be fully closed.
  • Anyone in the welding bay must wear a welding helmet during welding except for filming crews if suitable protection is utilized.
  • When grinding, suitable PPE must be worn. At a minimum, gloves and face/eye protection must be worn.
  • Anyone not equipped with the proper PPE may not enter the facility and are not permitted to enter the competition area.


  • The floor and passages must be kept free of unnecessary clutter, wires, and trash.

Chemical Substances:

  • Appropriate PPE must be worn when handling any chemical substances.
  • Safe handling instructions must be provided for all substances used. 
  • All Competitors, Sponsors, and Judges must understand and follow these instructions when using chemical substances.
  • The host site will provide their own Facility Health and Safety Requirements documentation to Competitors as requested. 

Competition Rules

General Rules:

  • To participate, each Competitor must complete the required waivers and releases. 
  • Scores are calculated based on the scoring scheme outlined in this document with specific details provided at the competition.
  • Competitors are to be ranked on competition performance from best performance (highest overall score) to worst performance (lowest overall score).
  • In-person events: Instructors are NOT allowed in the competition areas and are NOT allowed to talk about the project with the student during the competition.
  • Project MFG leadership reserves the right to remove anyone from the competition for, but not limited to, unprofessional behavior, cheating, etc. 
  • Project MFG leadership reserves the right to alter events and/or rules prior to, or during the competition and makes best efforts to notify all members of any changes.

Competitor Requirements:

  • Each competition has technically qualified individuals.
  • There is no age requirement.
  • Current students of a trade training program or high school  


  • If a Competitor is determined to be using unsafe practices that could cause harm to themselves, others, or the equipment, they may be disqualified.
  • Violation of any rule may result in disqualification from the competition.

Project MFG reserves final authority for all rulings and rules interpretations.

Performance Evaluation

Project MFG will coordinate subject matter experts to evaluate and score competing teams’ projects. Project MFG competitions are referenced to recognized industry skills requirements and certifications. Preparation for, and competing in, Project MFG competitions provides practical experience against these requirements as a means to help accelerate competitors in their industry jobs and in gaining certifications.

The assessment of knowledge, skills, and abilities will be judged by the execution of a functional project. Written theory tests are not included in the competition although some detailed drawings and inspection results may have to be produced during the competition and submitted for scoring.

The scoring rubric assesses skills identified in the industry certifications and reflects performance against them as comprehensively as possible within the constraints of a controlled competition.

Advanced Manufacturing Competition Overview

The Project MFG Advanced Manufacturing Competition challenges teams to demonstrate their skills in one integrated competition. Skills tested may include (but are not limited to):

  • CNC Programming and Machining, mill and lathe
  • 5-axis milling
  • Welding
  • Metrology
  • Precision Assembly
  • Additive Design and Manufacturing

Competitors should expect to experience and manage real world situations such as change orders, project delays, & time management challenges.

This is a national competition consisting of 3 rounds of competition:

ROUND 1 – Qualification Round:

Round 1 is a remote competition that is done at the team’s school using the team’s equipment and takes place in October 18 – November 18 2024. The team advisor/sponsor acts as an Honest Broker for this part of the competition. Project MFG sends material, specialized tools, & project documentation to the competing schools. Teams complete the project and return project and needed documentation to Project MFG. This round of competition is limited to 3-axis milling, welding, inspection, & additive manufacturing.

ROUND 2 – Regional Rounds:

In Round 2, the top 16 teams from the Qualification round will move forward to the Regional competitions. Qualifying schools will not incur travel or competing costs for these competitions. These will take place in March of 2025 at 3 sites across the United States. Regional rounds of competition will step up the level of skills and further integrate the manufacturing processes. Competitors should expect to be tested in the following: TIG welding of aluminum, 5-axis CNC milling of aluminum, lathe operations, milling of steel, Industry 4.0 Cyber Security, thread milling, additive design and production.

ROUND 3 – National Championship:

The top 4 teams from Regional competitions will qualify for The National “Clash of Trades” competition in May 2025 that will be fillmed and distributed on Project MFG’s YouTube channel.

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