Utah's efforts to grow the advanced composites industry in the state took a leap forward in September with the announcement that Composites One has entered into a partnership with the Davis Applied Technology College (DATC) in Kaysville to roll out a series of technical summits utilizing the college's composites lab.
Composites One is the nation's largest distributor of composite materials, serving customers from more than 35 locations in North America, including Utah. The company offers composites fabricators and molders thousands of products from more than 600 of the industry's top suppliers through a technical sales and customer service force that is the most knowledgeable in the industry. Composites One also provides a variety of value added services that include a dedicated advanced composites team, closed mold technologies, technical applications reviews and unmatched regulatory compliance assistance. Meanwhile, the DATC has evolved into a leading supplier of skilled workers supporting the state's composites industry.
Ben Hart, managing director of urban and rural business services in the Governor's Office of Economic Development, says the new partnership is meaningful because the composites industry is extremely important to the state.
"Composites is one of those sub clusters that affects and is a catalyst for some of our major industries, like aerospace and defense, outdoor recreation, energy and others," he adds. "Our office, partnering with EDCUtah, has been very involved in supporting advanced composites companies in the state and doing outreach to help grow this sub cluster. This dynamic new partnership between the DATC and Composites One will better serve our industry and the workforce and will provide a unique advantage for the state."
Hart goes on to explain the partnership will also help the Utah brand tremendously, which is exciting from a corporate recruitment standpoint. And for the DATC composites students, it will give them an opportunity to showcase their work with some of the finest products and equipment in the country.
Ginger Chinn, DATC's vice president of external engagement and economic development, says the partnership with Composites One began to develop about two years ago during a CAMX trade show in Orlando. Composites One always has a big footprint at CAMX in the live demo area, and the DATC is always there with other Utah composites organizations as part of the Utah Pavilion hosted by GOED and EDCUtah. She explains that Composites One is headquartered in Illinois, but was interested in opportunities in the West.
"We invited the company to do some demonstrations and training in our lab," Chinn continues. "They came and did some product demos and brought in companies from all over the world. When we showcased all that Utah has to offer in the composites industry, they were completely blown away."
In return for hosting the technical summits and meetings in the DATC lab, she says Composites One will supply materials for DATC students to use in the lab, which is a big win for the DATC because many of the Composite One products are difficult for a state institution to acquire. Through this partnership, DATC students will have the opportunity to train on some of the most high-end composites materials in the world. What's more, the students will also have the opportunity to participate in the live demos and technical summits, giving them exposure to composites companies from across the globe.
DATC President Michael Bouwhuis says bringing education and industry together with a common cause is always a productive partnership. "Working together, we will help to prepare highly skilled workers to preserve global competitiveness and economic opportunity within the composites industry. We will also ensure that there is a future workforce for this growing industry."
Through the new partnership, Composites One will work closely with the DATC to enhance its current composites program by offering both real world product and process expertise that will provide students with the right skill set for careers within the composites industry upon graduation. The partnership will also allow Composites One, in cooperation with the DATC, access to an excellent venue to conduct employee and customer training for new products, cost reduction, productivity/process improvements, automation and engineering design, and continuing education for existing customers and suppliers.
"Composites One is dedicated to the advancement of our industry," says Composites One President and COO Leon Garoufalis. "With this new partnership, we can help prepare the next generation of composites professionals, as well as ensure that more of our industry's existing workforce is educated on the latest composites technologies."
Composites One and the DATC will also work together to explore opportunities to expand student understanding of advanced composites and high performance materials like prepreg and thermoplastics, as well as processes like out-of- autoclave and additive manufacturing.
Bouwhuis says the partnership between Composites One and the DATC continues a rich history of partnerships between the DATC and industry leaders. Other current national training partners include Lincoln Electric Corporation, Polaris Corporation and Hartwig/OKUMA Corporation.
"Like our other national partnerships, this partnership with Composites One brings our product providers, customers and students together with our faculty, forming innovation in education required for the preparation of 21st century additive manufacturing cluster jobs in our economy. By leveraging the greatness of both brands we produce a rich and complete educational training for our students.
EDCUtah President and CEO Jeff Edwards says Composites One is another jewel in Utah's advanced composites industry, which has become a center of excellence in the country. Companies like Boeing, Orbital ATK, Albany, Northrup Grumman and many others utilize composites materials for aerospace and defense work in the state, while outdoor products giants include Rossignol, Envy, Soloman, Browning, Scott and Vista Outdoors form the backbone for composites development in the recreational cluster.