New program at the technical high school level
Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is proud to announce a pilot advanced functional fabric (AFF) curricula development project with the Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS), the MIT Edgerton Center and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Studio Education Foundation.
Over the past few decades, the U.S. has lost many of its manufacturing capabilities in fiber and textiles. Recent breakthroughs in fiber materials and manufacturing processes have allowed design and production of advanced functional fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color. These technologies are positioned to create high-value added products which can revitalize domestic textile manufacturing and generate high quality jobs. However, manufacturing fabrics with advanced capabilities requires a workforce with a new combination of skill sets, which this program is designed to stimulate.
“We are excited about the AFF educational collaboration, not only because it will help prepare students for innovative skill building opportunities and careers, but also because it is an important milestone for all of us in our mission to catalyze a domestic, manufacturing-based, revolution of the textile industry into a value-added, high-tech industry by transforming traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into highly sophisticated devices,” said AFFOA CEO, Yoel Fink.
The collaboration between AFFOA, GLTS, the MIT Edgerton Center and the STEAM Studio Education Foundation aims to develop the next generation of multi-skilled workers by exposing students to a myriad of technical skills in the context of manufacturing advanced functional fabrics. The AFF curricula will integrate skills learned at AFFOA High Tech Fabric Discovery Center into an introductory-level curriculum that encompasses Fiber Design, Textile Design and Product Design of Advanced Functional Fabrics and will be piloted at GLTS.
“AFF offers students far more than an opportunity to pursue a career, it allows them to be part of a potential industry that will hopefully impact the quality of people’s lives,” said John Lavoie, Superindendent, Greater Lawrence Technical School. “Students will be inspired and excited to be the first entrepreneurs to design and produce high tech clothes of the future,” he added.
The curricula will have two interwoven learning pathways that support the student’s ability to build a multi-skilled and multi-faceted framework: Machining, Manufacturing aimed at students interested in AFF production and Engineering Design aimed at students interested in AFF design. Together these pathways are expected to position the students for multiple degree programs and career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, functional fabrics and beyond. This program will also help AFFOA develop a model for scaling alike programs throughout the Commonwealth, in other states and Fabric Discovery Centers, as well as developing a standard for making program materials widely available.
“We have 20 years of experience working with middle and high school students on project-based engineering. As part of the collaboration, we are excited to advance education in functional fabrics and to move the needle in workforce development in the textile industry and US manufacturing,” said Forbes Director of the Edgerton Center and Dean for Undergraduate Research, Prof. J. Kim Vandiver
AFFOA is a non-profit with over 100 members from industry, academia and non-profits dedicated to enabling a domestic manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibers, yarns, and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated and networked devices and systems. To enable rapid transition from idea to product, AFFOA has assembled a high-tech national product prototyping ecosystem called the Fabric Innovation Network (FIN). The FIN is made up of small, medium, and large manufacturers and academic centers that have production capabilities allocated to AFFOA projects. Through AFFOA and the FIN, members can rapidly execute prototypes and pilot manufacturing of advanced fabric products, decreasing time to market and accelerating product innovation. AFFOA leads the convergence of advanced technology into fibers (“Moore’s Law for fibers”) resulting in fabric products that deliver value-added services to the user (“Fabrics as a service”). Through AFFOA’s activities, fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color will soon be possible to benefit the consumer and warfighter. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AFFOA is a public/private partnership and a member of the Manufacturing USA network. For more information visit www.AFFOA.ORG or tweet @AFFOA_RFT
GLTS is a regional technical high school, which serves Massachusetts students from Lawrence, Methuen, Andover and North Andover. The school’s 1,473-student population is 81% Hispanic or Latino, 17% White, 1% Asian and 0.8% African American. 51% of the students are female; 49% male. The school has a 100% free breakfast and lunch program due to the high number of students with low socioeconomic status. The STEAM Innovation Program at the Greater Lawrence Technical School is developed and operated by GLTS; its curriculum development and professional development is advised by STEAM Studio, a local MA nonprofit led by David Birnbach (MIT-Sloan Lecturer) and MIT Edgerton Center.
About MIT Edgerton Center
The MIT Edgerton Center is where mind and hand meet, where learning happens by doing. The center educates MIT students through clubs and teams, courses in engineering and high-speed photography, machine shops, and makerspaces. The center is also home to a K-12 science and engineering program that includes daily programs, intensive summer camps, makerspace training, and curriculum development.