Heroes MAKE America continues to grow


The Manufacturing Institute’s MAKE America heroes didn’t let COVID-19 slow it down. Rather, it has expanded and added new features in 2021 to prepare more members of the military community for manufacturing careers.

“The work we do aligns so well with what our manufacturers prioritize,” said Babs Chase, vice president of military and veteran programs at MI. “We continue to serve a community that has sacrificed so much and will continue to sacrifice. We really appreciate the manufacturers who stand by our side.

Growth during a pandemic: Heroes, which works with local technical colleges to provide certification and career preparation, has increased its impact over the past year and has now placed graduates at more than 250 companies in 42 states.

  • Training programs at Fort Riley, Kansas, Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky continue to expand, and Heroes will soon be launching a new training site in Georgia.
  • In August, Heroes completed the first class of its new Fort Hood mechatronics training program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering and computer technology with advanced manufacturing.

Go virtual: This month, with support from the Caterpillar Foundation, Heroes officially launches a fully remote, synchronous model training program that will incorporate hands-on simulations using virtual reality.

  • The new program is a partnership with Texas State Technical College and New York-based tech startup TRANSFR, and will allow transitioning military personnel, veterans and military spouses to participate in Heroes regardless of their physical location, provided that they have access to Wi-Fi.

Connection with the heroes: 2021 is also the second year of The heroes connect, the program’s direct response to COVID-19. This virtual platform facilitates presentations between the manufacturing industry and members of the military community seeking employment.

  • In-person visits have always been a cornerstone of the Heroes program, and Heroes Connect provides another avenue for these essential introductions to manufacturing leaders and veterans already in the industry. Even if Heroes restarts face-to-face tours, Heroes Connect will remain a staple of the initiative, Chase said.

As she said, “Heroes Connect continues to break down barriers around the physical location, introducing manufacturers from across the country to Heroes participants as well as the military community at large.”

Diversity data: By the end of 2021, more than 625 students will have graduated since Heroes’ inception in 2018. These students are as diverse as the career opportunities available in manufacturing:

  • Graduates represent more than 136 different military professional specialties.
  • Almost half of all graduates (47%) are from minority populations.
  • About 16% are women.
  • Only 47% of alumni have post-secondary education.
  • Forty-one percent of graduates had been in the military for 10 years or more.

Achievements: The Heroes program has too many success stories to tell in one place, but here are two:

  • Former US Navy Zachary Willis came to Heroes after health issues led to his departure from the military. “It’s amazing,” said Willis, who earlier this year started manufacturing work at Hodgdon Powder Company. “The ability to connect with other employers across the country, from small businesses to large international corporations, is something that is not seen in very many places. I wish more people would take advantage of programs like this.
  • Then there’s Hugo Hinojosa, who served 22 years in the US Army before starting the Heroes program. He now works as a Business Partner in the Human Resources division of WestRock Company and says, “I work in a place where the values ​​align with what I grew up with in the military: integrity, respect, responsibility and excellence.”

The last word : “For our team, serving the military is crucial,” said Chase. “But our service to manufacturers is just as vital, and they recognize the value that this population brings to their teams. “


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