Local, regional, state, and federal leaders gathered today at Michoud Assembly Facility to formally begin an advanced manufacturing partnership between the U.S. government, private sector companies, education and training providers, economic and workforce development, and philanthropic organizations. This initiative follows a renewed commitment that was announced from the National Space Council and Vice President Kamala Harris to support space-related STEM initiatives to inspire, prepare, and employ the next generation of the space workforce.
At the core of today’s event was the unveiling of the Greater New Orleans Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which is a sectoral partnership designed to convene, coordinate, and collaborate with industry, economic development, higher education, and workforce development stakeholders to address the critical talent gaps and cultivate diverse talent pipelines, particularly in communities that are underrepresented in these fields.
“The continued growth of activity at Michoud over the past decades has had a significant impact on the region’s economy, and has created generations of workers engaged in some of mankind’s most meaningful work,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The unveiling of GNO RAMP will help usher in the future wave of space workers while furthering the technical training capabilities of regional schools. This is made possible by the unwavering partnership between industry and education, as cultivated by the GNO, Inc. team.”
In order to address the challenges of today and prepare for the discoveries of tomorrow, the country needs a skilled and diverse space workforce.
“Although there is a lot of competition in the space industry, this initiative encourages collaboration for the common goal of expanding our skilled technical workforce. It benefits the industry, NASA and the greater community,” said Pam Melroy, Deputy Administrator at NASA.
Regional partnerships help to bolster our nation’s capacity to inspire, prepare and employ a diverse and inclusive space workforce, starting with increasing awareness of the wide range of space careers, providing resources and opportunities to better prepare jobseekers for the workplace, and placing a focus on strategies to recruit, retain, and advance professionals of all backgrounds in the space workforce.
Operations at Michoud Assembly Facility support more than 5,000 jobs in Louisiana and Mississippi, generating $630 million in local economic output. Workers utilize state-of-the-art manufacturing and welding equipment which make it possible to build several core stages simultaneously that will lead bold exploration missions to the Moon and beyond.
“We’re proud to be a part of an initiative, which will strengthen the home-grown talent pool here in New Orleans and throughout the region for years to come,” said Lionel Dutreix, Director, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. “This partnership embodies NASA Michoud’s commitment to our community and STEM outreach efforts.”
The facility has more than 60 years of history manufacturing large vehicles and components for our nation’s space program, from the Apollo Program to the Shuttle, to today’s Space Launch System (SLS). The skills required to perform these operations are highly technical, allowing Louisiana workers to shine while executing some of the most innovative and sought-after challenges in the world for global manufacturing leaders.
Over the past decade, operations at Michoud have focused on successfully building the majority of components for four Artemis rockets, which will bring mankind back into space, and onto the moon. This project required local training and education leaders to create new programming to develop curriculum in cutting edge manufacturing processes such as friction-stir-welding.
“Higher education partnerships bolster Louisiana’s workforce, which in turn increases capacity and capability for NASA and its tenant companies at Michoud Assembly Facility,” LED FastStart Executive Director Paul Helton said. “LED FastStart is honored and privileged to be part of this initiative, and we look forward to continuing to support efforts at Michoud throughout the Artemis program and for years to come.”
One of these training programs paired up a major aerospace company Boeing, with Nunez Community College to create the state’s first Aerospace Manufacturing Program, which has already successfully developed a pipeline of workers to perform challenging industrial tasks. This partnership between education and industry follows the long-term successful model of GNOu programs such as the GNO Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program, which connects three regional colleges with manufacturing employers in need of workers who can perform tasks that combine engineering and robotics. The goal is to develop industry-driven programs that are addressing the needs of employers talent pipelines.
These collaborations between key employers and the educational institutions who train their workforce are critical for ensuring that the Greater New Orleans economy continues to grow, fueling new high-wage jobs for the community and raising the quality of life in the region. Greater New Orleans, Inc. has deployed GNOu programming to address workforce needs in several key industries to solve immediate and long-term solutions to workforce challenges.
As NASA prepares for future launches, as well as projects beyond Artemis, regional leaders in higher education, industry, workforce, and economic development will continue their legacy of creating strong workforce ecosystems for sustainable economic growth for years to come.