For the first time since its inception, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s (IALR) Board of Trustees has voted to add a new division to IALR’s structure, the Advanced Manufacturing division, led by recently hired Director Troy Simpson. Troy Simpson

“I am pleased that our leadership has recognized the importance of expanding support of advanced manufacturing, an industry sector critical to our mission of fostering regional economic transformation,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “By adding an Advanced Manufacturing division to our structure, we further leverage our collaboration with Danville Community College and economic development partners to establish Southern Virginia as the preferred site for industry development and expansion efforts.”

Simpson, IALR’s new Director of Advanced Manufacturing, brings 27 years of experience from Danville Community College (DCC), where he led the curriculum development and implementation for advanced manufacturing. Prior to his time at DCC, he worked in design, tool and die making, and machining for the public and private sectors. Simpson has formed many industry partnerships that have resulted in more than $3 million of support for advanced manufacturing programs. He also has successfully managed more than $8 million of federal, state, and local grants to support these programs. Simpson spearheaded the development of DCC’s Metrology program and the Capstone program at IALR’s Haas Center, which has been recognized nationally as a benchmark model. He serves as the chair of the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center advisory board and advises other manufacturing programs.

IALR’s Advanced Manufacturing division works with DCC to produce a work-ready talent pipeline of skilled machinists through the existing Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining located at IALR. The Center’s third-year Capstone program complements the training curriculum offered by DCC and offers a full-scale work flow cell, which replicates the floor of industry facilities. Students can earn a career studies certificate, degree and up to eight industry recognized credentials. The Center has attracted to the area multiple leading companies like Unison Tube, Overfinch and Kyocera SGS Tech Hub. Local industries also may use the space to train employees on cutting-edge technology.

The division will capitalize on the success and national attention of the DCC-IALR advanced manufacturing partnership to date. Just earlier this year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson toured the Haas Center, noting it as a model program. Last month, the Institute Conference Center was selected as the site for the Haas Technical Education Center Americas CNC Educators Conference; Troy and the Haas Center staff played an integral role in the presentations and workshops attended by 270 people from across the U.S. and Canada.

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