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Participants in Roane State program offered chance for ORNL internship

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Austin Dickson of Farragut understood the educational benefits of Roane State Community College’s Advanced Materials Training and Education Center when he signed up for the courses.

He wanted to learn new skills and broaden his résumé, and the AMTEC program’s classes — including Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety certification and computer skills — fit his goals.

But Dickson and dozens of other program trainees and alumni recently experienced other benefits, when they were invited to a job fair hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The job fair at Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus gave AMTEC participants the opportunity to apply for one-year internships at ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is coordinating the internship program for the $35 million pilot plant, now under construction at the Horizon Center in Oak Ridge.

“The AMTEC program opened the door for me to talk to ORNL,” Dickson said. “I couldn’t see myself meeting with these people any other time unless I was here.”

AMTEC is a no-cost, high-tech training program for those who are unemployed or underemployed. The program, which takes place at ORNL, is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. ORNL is a grant partner and member of AMTEC’s advisory board.

“ORNL, Roane State and ORAU are working together to establish a comprehensive workforce development system around carbon fiber and composites manufacturing,” said Lee McGetrick, director of the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility. “The goal is to prepare a skilled workforce that will foster industry growth in this region.”

The program offers courses that prepare students to become skilled manufacturing technicians, along with specialized instruction in solar energy technologies and composites.

Composites, such as carbon fiber, can be used to manufacture lightweight, durable and energy-efficient products.
Plans are for ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility to produce up to 25 tons of new low-cost carbon fiber annually.

The pilot plant’s purpose includes demonstrating how carbon fiber can be manufactured more in a more affordable manner.

Full-time production is expected to begin by next January.

“It’s very exciting,” said AMTEC trainee John Thornton of Clinton, who is starting the AMTEC program.

“It seems like a big opportunity. The job fair is a good motivation to go through the courses,” he added. “I’m excited to get started. I feel like it’s going to take me somewhere and help me better myself.”

Logan Kirkland of Harriman, who finished the AMTEC program in October, said he thinks “everything will be carbon fiber before too long.”

“It’s great to have this job fair for us,” he said.

The AMTEC program takes about 14 weeks to complete, and the training is valued at $4,000-$5,000.
Evening classes are available

“I think it’s a great program,” said Eric Morgan of Karns, who started evening classes in November. “If anyone has an opportunity to do something like this, then they should take it.”

Nolan Nevels, director of the AMTEC program, said he appreciated the support of ORNL, ORAU and all of AMTEC’s partners and advisory board members.

“We know we have their full support,” Nevels said. “They are making this a successful program for the community.”

Call 865-481-5436 or visit www.roanestate.edu/amtec for more about AMTEC or to apply for the program.