Our investment in FAME USA

Beth Foster-Chao
Beth Foster-Chao January 19, 2023 2 min read
Students standing over and tinkering with robotics and hydraulics machines while learning at St. Philips College.

Future-proofing the advanced
manufacturing workforce

The future of work in manufacturing is one of digitization, automation, AI, and industrial robots. Employers increasingly need workers with the technical capabilities to operate and maintain advanced machinery and soft skills like critical thinking and problem-solving to optimize processes and troubleshoot issues. FAME USA offers employers the framework, learning services, technology, and partnership best practices to recruit and train advanced manufacturing technicians (AMTs)—multi-skilled members of the manufacturing workforce, critical to manufacturers’ ability to use the most advanced machinery and robotics for production.


The Autodesk Foundation welcomes the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education USA (FAME USA) to its Work & Prosperity portfolio. FAME USA, managed by the Manufacturing Institute, is a national network of more than 400 manufacturing companies across 35 chapters in 12 states that together provide comprehensive technical training to hundreds of students annually. FAME USA equips the modern manufacturing workforce by offering an “earn-and-learn” Advanced Manufacturing Technician program that manufacturers across the country can adopt to meet their talent needs.

FAME USA has a unique national workforce development approach because it is led and implemented by regional chapters of manufacturers in partnership with community colleges and local community organizations. The FAME USA team not only helps employers tackle discrete talent pipeline challenges but also facilitates important ecosystem-level shifts, such as two-way communication between community colleges and industry, employer-led upskilling investment, and active collaboration between large and small firms.

The FAME USA program creates upwardly mobile career pathways for those who would benefit from an earn-and-learn model. Each calendar year, 10 to 20 students enroll in a chapter program, taking classes at the partner community college two days per week and working at a sponsoring employer three days per week. Students complete their training in two years, earning a minimum of 1,800 hours of work experience and graduating with an associate degree, debt free. The program, which primarily enrolls recent high school graduates, emphasizes professional behaviors along with the top skillsets that manufacturing executives need in the age of automation: digital skills, robotics programming, and critical thinking.

In 2020, the Brookings Institute and Opportunity America conducted an in-depth study of the oldest and most developed FAME state network, Kentucky FAME, to understand the program’s benefits for students. The results demonstrate compelling outcomes, including higher graduation rates, higher salaries out of college, and higher growth in salaries over time. The program puts students on pathways to earn significantly more than alternative careers in the area; FAME USA estimates that the first-year earning potential of AMT graduates is at least 75% higher than the per capita income of their surrounding communities.

Scaling an employer-driven manufacturing training model

Funding and technical support from the Autodesk Foundation will accelerate FAME USA’s investment in the technology infrastructure underpinning its chapter programs and help the network grow into more states across the US.

“As we work to scale the FAME model and bring global-best skills training to employers—and students—across the country, leveraging our staff time to support our partners is a pressing priority,” said Tony Davis, FAME National Director. “Our collaboration with the Autodesk Foundation allows us to continue investing in and expanding platforms that support the FAME network and ensure that each FAME chapter has the tools needed to manage their program efficiently.”

Learn more about how FAME USA supports manufacturers to train the next generation of advanced manufacturing technicians.