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Clemson Univ to take part in US textile industry revamp
04
Apr '16
Clemson University experts will create virtual reality training programmes and help military veterans integrate into the workforce as part of a $317-million plan that aims to shake the very core of US textile manufacturing, remaking the industry into a high-tech business, the University said in a press release.

The group that will oversee the plan is Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, which includes 16 industry members, 31 universities, 72 manufacturing entities and 26 startup incubators spanning 28 states. Its formation was announced on Friday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America predicted its efforts will lead to an increase of more than 50,000 jobs in a wide range of US industries by 2025 while advancing textile products that can see, hear, sense, communicate, monitor health, change color and store and convert energy.

Members hope that by combining previously isolated strengths they can build an engine that provides key services to industry, ranging from building prototypes to helping educate the employees who will work in textile plants of the future.

Their goal is to enable American companies to expand and capture 30 per cent of the global technical textiles market. Some of the globe's most-recognizable brands are involved, including Corning, DuPont, Intel, Nike, The North Face and Timberland, the release said.

Participants from South Carolina are the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development, Milliken, Inman Mills and the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Kris Frady, the operations director at the Center for Workforce Development, said experts from the center will create virtual reality training tools, including factory simulations specific to fibre and textile facilities, as part of a pilot program based in South Carolina.
They will also develop two iBooks on fiber and textile manufacturing careers, one targeted toward women and one for veterans.

“The textile technology revolution will need skilled employees, and that's where the Center for Workforce Development can help,” she said. “Through our participation in this initiative, the Center for Workforce Development is continuing to widen the talent pipeline from academia to industry.”

Kapil Chalil Madathil, the director of technology operations at the Center for Workforce Development, said the center's previous work in virtual reality uniquely qualifies it to participate in Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.

“We have developed several cutting-edge virtual reality simulations that allow students to repeatedly practice tasks in a safe environment,” he said. “The simulations add a level of authenticity that helps students remember their lessons.”

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