Thursday, April 21, 2016

NYC Training Hub to Focus on High-Tech Textiles

Manufacture New York CEO Bob Bland believes learning new technology will spur a manufacturing revolution in New York City.

I attend Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and majored in Textile Design from 1962 - 1963.

A new training center at Manufacturing New York is designed to revitalize New York City's dwindling manufacturing industry. Under a nationwide initiative to boost innovation, a new training hub will launch in a Brooklyn fashion design and production incubator.

In a partnership with MIT and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Manufacture New York will host training and apprenticeship programs at Liberty View Industrial Plaza in Sunset Park. The center will provide skill-based training and at least 30 registered apprenticeship programs in all areas of advanced apparel manufacturing, such as digital textile printing and pattern making. There are also plans to potentially include interactive online classes and virtual-reality training.

"The idea is to bridge the gap between technology and the commercialization of products made of functional fabrics," said Fashion Institute of Technology President Dr. Joyce Brown.

Manufacture New York is part of the Obama administration's Revolutionary Fibers & Textile Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which recently received a $75 million Federal grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The institute creates training facilities across the country that will educate workers on how to develop and produce commercial and military products to better protect soldiers in combat.

In addition to Federal funding, the City awarded Manufacture New York $3.5 million to build the 160,000-square-foot training center. The facility is expected to increase the number of highly skilled workers and create more manufacturing jobs in New York City. Also, it will boost the competitiveness of local businesses in the fashion and military-technology markets by helping people produce items like sweaters made of functional fabrics that regulate body temperature or parachutes with built-in radio transmitters.

"This is the next generation of gadgets," said Bob Bland, Chief Executive Officer of Manufacture New York. "Functionality will be embedded in the textiles themselves."

Bland says that teaching the next generation of workers the science behind wearable tech gives American manufacturers a competitive edge over global rivals. She hopes that the training center will spur growth in New York City’s manufacturing industry, which accounted for only 2.2% of private-sector jobs in 2013.

"New York City is the fashion capital of the U.S. and the home of Silicon Alley," she said. "It’ll be a real boost to the [textile] industry."

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