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News | May 9, 2024

Big Bend Technical College Partners with LIFT’s Operation Next Program to Provide Transitioning Soldiers, Military Spouses and Veterans Opportunities for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing


LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute, and Big Bend Technical College (BBTC), have announced a partnership to provide free training to transitioning service members, National Guard, Army Reserves, and their families, along with veterans and other civilians for careers in advanced manufacturing through LIFT’s Operation Next initiative.

Operation Next provides an accelerated-hybrid program that combines online education with hands-on training to earn credentials for in-demand careers in advanced manufacturing. BBTC’s rolling start program will train students in Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and Welding. Each year 200,000 service members transition out of the military across the nation, and it is estimated that nearly 2 million advanced manufacturing workers will be needed to fill vacant positions in the U.S. by 2028.

Big Bend Technical College (BBTC) will be offering an Aluminum Welding and Fabrication program.  “Our motto is to ‘Educate, Empower, and Employ’ students in our local community, and we are thrilled to be partnering with LIFT to bring such a successful national program like Operation Next to our region to do just that,” said Jodi Tillman, BBTC Director

“Being a 35-year local aluminum manufacturing company as well as being a long-term partner of BBTC, the news of this new program is beyond exciting. CNC operations, aluminum welding and fabrication are skills that we use each day to build top quality, safe products,” said Jennifer Arnold, President of American Aluminum Accessories, Inc., based in Perry, Florida. “This training will help to secure the future of our company as well as others locally and across the state. American Aluminum’s motto is ‘Protecting those who Protect Us’ which is driven from the aluminum products we provide to the law enforcement community across the nation. This new program will help us tremendously by providing ready to work team members.”

“Advanced manufacturing is critical to the economy of the region and the economy of our great state, and we need to ensure the products we need are made here in the United States,” said State Sen. Corey Simon. “Through Operation Next, providing more people with the opportunity to begin working in advanced manufacturing, we can bolster our state and national economies, as well as our national defense.”

“Partnerships like these are critical for Operation Next to have the impact it is designed to have and provide opportunities for our service members and their families,” said Robert Shaner, Vice-President, Talent, LIFT. “We greatly welcome the opportunity to work with Big Bend Technical College to help these servicemembers and others in the region begin their advanced manufacturing careers.”

Since 2018, Operation Next has trained thousands of people across the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico.

To learn more about Operation Next or to enroll, visit


About LIFT:
LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.