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Employer-Led Advanced Manufacturing Technician Training Program Launches in Southeast Michigan

January 11, 2023 Press Releases
mechatronics student checking a machine

A new chapter of the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is launching in southeast Michigan. The training program which equips students with the skills required for the rapidly evolving manufacturing industry provides a debt-free path to an Associate degree.

Known as the MI FAME Mitten Chapter, the program pairs students with a sponsoring company to complete a two-year apprenticeship program. Toyota Motor North America is the chapter’s founding company and Washtenaw Community College (WCC) will serve as the educational partner. Ann Arbor SPARK, Michigan Works! Southeast, and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) are also supporting the initiative.

“There is an enormous demand for skilled technicians in advanced manufacturing,” said Meg Wallace, Senior Engineer at Toyota. “By investing in our future workforce, we are making a commitment to future innovation.”

In addition to Toyota, other founding employers include Lomar Machine & Tool and Orbitform. Companies seeking to join the Michigan FAME chapter can connect with the chapter via the FAME website

“As the world becomes more automated and machine-reliant, manufacturing leaders will need to have a base skill set and understanding of complex machines to lead effectively,” remarked Orbitform President Jake Sponsler. “FAME emphasizes leadership and professional behaviors, as well as Lean principles, to build the strongest talent.” 

FAME was originally created by Toyota in 2009 and transitioned to The Manufacturing Institute to help it scale. Today, FAME has 34 chapters with more than 400 company partners across 12 states. There have been more than 1,500 graduates since 2012, with an 85 percent employment placement.

“We’re excited to work with MI FAME to launch this work-learn program which combines classroom training in mechatronics — robotics and automated systems — with on-site, real work experience at a local manufacturing company,” said Kyrsten Rue, experiential learning and employer relations manager for WCC.

Funding to support the MI FAME: Michigan Chapter is provided by the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) as part of a $5.8 million Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Employment and Training Administration. Ann Arbor SPARK will help administer the program and will also help recruit both employers and students.

“The Michigan Alliance for Greater Mobility Advancement (MAGMA) employer-led collaborative, convened by SEMCA WIN, has been working to establish a FAME chapter in Michigan for several years,” said Michele Economou Ureste, WIN executive director. “The recent SEMCA WIN ABA grant will provide funding support for the FAME Mitten Chapter equipment, salary, and training needs while enabling training cohorts to be filled through the collaboration of WIN community colleges in a shared prosperity region.”

“What makes FAME a great opportunity for all participants is that the students earn a degree and a paycheck while the employer builds their talent pipeline,” said Melissa Sheldon, director of research for Ann Arbor SPARK. “It’s another great initiative to train and retain top talent in Michigan.”

Participants in the FAME program can be recent high school graduates, military members transitioning to the workforce, or individuals looking to move into a new career path. The FAME program is designed to give students hands-on experience while also providing formal educational credentials. The program focuses on professional presence skills, lean manufacturing acumen, as well as formal technical capabilities. The first cohort of students will be recruited throughout Spring 2023 and will begin the FAME program in Fall 2023. Applications to join the program can be submitted on the MI FAME Mitten Chapter website


The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) network is comprised of employer-led chapters sponsoring students through a work/learn model over five semesters in conjunction with a college partner. The Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, a FAME co-op, produces global-best, entry-level multiskilled maintenance technicians to excel in today’s advanced manufacturing environments. The FAME USA network is managed and supported by The Manufacturing Institute; learn more at