Advanced Manufacturing Certification Program Offered to Pittsburgh Small Businesses Recovering from Pandemic

LIFT’s “Operation Next” partners with Catalyst Connection to expand beyond military with funding provided through CARES Act

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2020 

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania— LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, and part of the Manufacturing USA network, opened its “Operation Next” advanced manufacturing certification program to employees of Pittsburgh-area small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available to industry for the first time, the new Operation Next civilian program, funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and awarded to LIFT by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will support the training of 250 workers, at no cost to the individuals or their employers, in Pittsburgh and Detroit. The workers will participate in industry-standard training in CNC machine operations, industrial technology maintenance, welding and robotics.

Operation Next features a hybrid curriculum – online theory combined with performance-based activities and assessment – and its accelerated pace is ideal for reskilling or upskilling incumbent workers. In Pittsburgh, employers will have the option of providing performance-based training at the Community College of Allegheny County or New Century Careers.

LIFT is partnering with Catalyst Connection, a Pennsylvania Manufacturing Extension Partnership, to manage the program and connect manufacturers and their teams to the opportunity. Companies can get more information on how to become a part of the program here.

“I applaud LIFT and Catalyst Connection for working together to revitalize our local manufacturers as they begin to emerge from the pandemic,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-18). “Small and medium-sized manufacturers are at the core of both Pennsylvania’s and the national economy, and this training is critical to ensuring our manufacturing base is healthy.”

Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN), a Michigan Manufacturing Extension Partnership, will also implement the Operation Next program in Detroit.

“It is our mission to drive American manufacturing into the future through technology and talent development, and the opportunity to expand Operation Next into industry will allow us to do just that at our home in Detroit and in Pittsburgh,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “Operation Next has been an overwhelming success in supporting our military men and women transition to civilian careers, and we are proud to expand it as part of the pandemic recovery.”

“Catalyst Connection is dedicated to serving small and medium sized manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Operation Next program will augment our curriculum for workforce training and contribute to overall growth and vibrancy of manufacturing in our community”, said Petra Mitchell, President and CEO of Catalyst Connection.

Initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Operation Next is an innovative manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative for separating military personnel. This marks the second expansion of Operation Next, and the first into the commercial industrial sector. In late 2019, LIFT announced the Department of Defense would support the program’s expansion over the next three years to nine new military installations, the National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses around the country.


About LIFT
LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit www.lift.technology or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

About Catalyst Connection
Catalyst Connection is a private not-for-profit organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We provide consulting and training services to small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania, accelerating revenue growth, and improving productivity. Through active collaboration with our clients and the manufacturing community, we contribute to the growth, vibrancy, and ongoing robustness of manufacturing in our region.

Catalyst Connection is supported, in part, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development, and by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.