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February 25, 2021

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Project MFG – a collaboration of industry, academic and defense partners from around the U.S. – recently held its inaugural Kansas City Challenge, a student welding competition at Johnson County Community College on Feb. 22-24, 2021.

The three-day citywide event attracted the best and brightest industrial technology students from area community colleges and vocational schools. This tournament-style skills competition tested each student’s ability to efficiently design, fabricate and assemble a product.

Backed by funding from the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program (IBAS), Project MFG is a workforce development and recruitment effort designed to generate interest in the skilled trades. Project MFG unites local communities, educators and industry leaders who train and hire the next generation of welders, machinists, engineers and mechanics.

“Project MFG is bridging the gap in the country's industrial base. As we've seen with COVID-19, when supply chains are disrupted, the U.S. requires the ability to make the goods we need, when we need them, and where we need them,” said Dr. Ray Dick, Project MFG Program Director.

Local Kansas City artist, television personality and welder STRETCH was invited to assist with judging and mentoring during the competition. This celebrity sculptor and restaurateur has been featured on Discovery Channel’s hit show Monster House as well as ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.